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Collected in the Counties of York, Lincoln, Derby, 
and Nottingham 







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\ DATg 






INTRODUCTION . . . . ix 


1. THE SMALL-TOOTH DOG . . . . . 1 

2. THE BAG OF NUTS . . . . .4 




6. JACK THE BUTTER-MILK . . . . 7 

7. DATHERA DAD , . * . . .9 

8. JACK OTTER . . . . . .10 





13. A DREAM OF HEAVEN . . . . .14 

14. THE ENDLESS TALE . -. . . .15 




18. THE GLASS BALL . . .-" .18 








25. BYARD'S LEAP ..... 













37. THE OLD ONE . . ... 






43. THE GOLDEN CUP ..... 











47. THE GOOD MAGPIE . . . . .46 



50. SUGAR AND SALT . . . . . .48 








IV. WITCHCRAFT . . . . . .70 





IX. WEATHER LORE . . . . .117 





XV. Two PAGAN HYMNS . . .148 



|HE fifty-two short stories printed in this volume have 
been got together during the lust six or seven years. 
A deluge of cheap literature has fallen upon us since 
the days when the brothers Grimm made their 
famous German collection, and the memory, assisted by books, 
is apt to forget the unwritten lore. But still the ancient stories, 
beautiful or highly humorous even in their decay, linger with 
us here and there in England, and, like rare plants, may be 
found by those who seek them. Though some of the stories 
here printed illustrate the poverty of present tradition, it is 
likely that others were never told at greater length, or in better 

In every case I have either written the tales down from 
dictation, or a written copy has been given to me. I have added 
nothing except the occasional formula, " Once upon a time," or 
a title to a story which had no title. Nor have I taken anything 
away. As nearly as I could manage it, the tales are given in 
the very words of the narrators. I have hardly attempted to 
reproduce dialect, but obsolete words, when used by the narrator, 
have been retained. And when the narrator has used such a 
word as " mamma," I have not hesitated to write " mother." 
The tales have all been obtained from oral tradition, and not from 
printed sources. Many more of them must be embedded in the 


memories of the people, but the collection of these things usually 
falls to the lot of those who are otherwise busy. 

A few remarks on the scope of the tales, and the lessons which 
they teach to the archaeologist, seem necessary. 

It will bo seen that witchcraft is very prominent in our tales, 
and it will appear that gifts were made to witches to obtain their 
favour and assistance in the ordinary affairs of life. In one 
story a boy who will not give butter-milk to a witch is threatened 
with boiling alive. In another story we are told that a farmer 
and his wife have been accustomed to give butter-milk to a 
witch. One day the farmer's daughter refuses to give the 
butter- milk, and after that butter will not come in the churn. 
In another story 'a farmer tells his men never to refuse to give 
anything that a witch might ask of them. But one of the men 
refuses her request, after which his horses will not go. In 
another story the horses of a carter who refuses to give the witch 
a pipe of tobacco are bewitched, and will not move on. Here 
we have four tales, derived from independent sources, in which 
the leading idea is that gifts ought to be offered to the witch, 
just as bowls of cream are offered to the fairies or local deities."* 
And as regards the pipe of tobacco, let us not forget that offer- 
ings made to the fairies had by no means ceased when tobacco 
was first brought into England. 

It is not unlikely that the numerous small tobacco pipes to 
which the name of " fairy pipes " has been given, and which 
are so often found upon or near to old earthworks, were intended 
as gifts to the fairies, otherwise the local deities or spirits of the 
dead. Two or three centuries ago belief in fairies and witchcraft 
was very strong in the minds of the English people, and the 
ancient notion that the dead needed the comforts and consolations 
of the living may have led to pious and secret offerings to them 
of little pipes of tobacco. I do not know any other way of 
accounting for the presence of these " fairy pipes " upon old 
mounds. It may be said, indeed, that they came from the ash-' 

* Amongst the Norsemen, sibyls or spae-wives, according to the popular fancy, 
went about the land and told men their fates. For this they received presents. 


pit or refuse heap along with the manure which was laid on the 
land. But this explanation will not account for their presence 
on lands which are not enclosed or cultivated. " Small tobacco 
pipes," says Mr. Croker in his Fairy Legends and Traditions of 
the South of Ireland, "of an ancient form, are frequently found 
in Ireland on digging or ploughing up the ground, particularly 
in the vicinity of those circular entrenchments, called Danish 
forts, which were more probably the villages or settlements of 
the native Irish. These pipes are believed by the peasantry to 
belong to the Cluricaunes, and when discovered are broken, or 
otherwise treated with indignity, as a kind of retort for the 
tricks which their supposed owners had played off."* The Eev. 
R. A. Gatty has found these pipes at Bradfield, near Sheffield. 
He describes them as "pigmy pipe bowls," and says that he has 
found them in the ploughed fields. " I have picked up," he 
says, " from time to time, upwards of a hundred specimens, 
when looking for flint implements. They vary a little in design, 
and sometimes makers' marks are found on the spur under the 
bowl."f In a letter to me Mr. Gatty says : " You never find 
them whole in the stem, except when behind old wainscots in very 

old houses I found a hundred or more on the moorside 

at Bradfield. Who smoked up there in those days ? 

The fairies are supposed to smoke, but where they get their 
tobacco from is a secret. Certainly the pipes are quite small 
enough for such small folk, and I have some specimens quite 
absurd in size. I am certain that the people believed in the 
fairies smoking. My old clerk at Bradfield who always swore 
by the mess, not mass used to argue the point with a friend 
over a glass of beer." Now there is a close resemblance 
between these gifts to witches and offerings made to the spirits 
of the dead. Accordingly the pipe of tobacco demanded by 
the witch in our tale resembles the offering made to the fairy or 
disembodied spirit inhabiting the hill or the ancient mound. And, 
as we shall presently see, the witch and the fairy are identical. 

* Quoted from Hone's Table BooJt, 1827, ii., p. 771. 
t Gatty's A Life at One Living, 1884, p. 213. 


Mr. W. F. Jackson has lent me a small pipe bowl found in a 
field near Bailey Hill, in Bradfield, in 1887. It is made of 
white pipe-clay, and might very well have been made 250 years 
ago. It is worn at the edges, and the stem has been broken off 
sharply at its junction with the bowl ; the aperture leading into 
the bowl remains. There is no spur, and the bowl is flattened 
beneath. A dotted line has been made round and near the edge 
of the bowl by way of ornament. The outside depth of the bowl 
is an inch and a quarter, the inside depth fifteen-sixteenths of an 
inch. The diameter of the bowl, measured from the outside, is 
half an inch. I found by experiment that the bowl of a modern 
tobacco pipe, of average size, would hold three times as much 
as this little bowl. I regard it as a specimen of the ordi- 
nary tobacco bowl once made in England, and not as having 
been specially made for the fairies, as bad money is manufac- 
tured for the gods in China."* 

Even in England money is offered to the gods when a shilling 
is put into the churn to make the butter come.t 

Mr. Hartland has arrived at the conclusion that no positive 
distinction can be made between ghosts and witches and fairies. 
" Whether," he says, " it be child- stealing, transformation, 
midnight meetings, possession and gift of enchanted objects, 
spell-binding, or whatever function, or habit, or power be pre- 
dicted of one, it will be found to be common to the three. I 
conclude, therefore, that they are all three of the same nature. 
This is what a consideration of the superstitions of savages would 
lead me to expect. The belief in fairies, ghosts, and witches is 
a survival of those superstitions." { Before Mr. Hartland had 
published his book my own observations had led me to a similar 
conclusion. Not the least forcible of the reasons which led me 
to entertain this view was the statement made to me by an old 
Derbyshire man, and recorded in a subsequent part of this 
volume, that " fairies are always dressed in a red mantle and 

* See an article in the Times of November 11, 1893, entitled "Cheating the 
t See p. 81. 
% The Science of Fairy Tales, 1891, p. 348. 


hood which covers the whole body, and witches are dressed 
exactly in the same manner." Witches, like fairies, are the 
spirits of the dead. 

In Dead Lane, or Deadman's Lane, at Ecclesall, near 
Sheffield, a a headless woman, robed in white," is still believed 
to wander by night. Are not these " headless women," who 
occur so often in popular tradition, the dead wandering about in 
their grave clothes, and is not the hood or mantle the shroud ? 
A form so dressed would appear headless, and the fairy dressed 
in "a red mantle and hood, which covers the whole body," 
seems to be nothing more than a dead man in his shroud. In 
Eyrbyggia Saga Thorgunna's body was a swathed in linen, but 
not sewn up, and then laid in the coffin." * There is a Middle 
High German word Mchel, Dutch hecJcsel, which means a witch, 
and with this word we may compare the Old Norse hokull, 
meaning a priest's cope or mantle, Old English hacela, Old 
High German hachul. And then we have the Old Norse hekla, 
a cowled or hooded frock. So that the Old Norse hokull appears 
to have developed the following meanings : 

1. A cope or hooded frock. 

2. A dead body habited in a long robe. 

3. A witch or fairy so habited. 

Again, we have the Old Norse grima, a hood, and Grimr, a 
name of Odin. All this is easy to understand when we bear 
in mind that the gods are themselves spirits, or dead men's 

According to the beliefs once held it would seem quite natural 
that the dead should wander about in their grave clothes. We 
also learn from the present collection that they carried bags or 
provision bags with them. This is apparent from the bag of 
nuts buried under the dead woman's head,f coupled with the 
tale in which a witch or disembodied spirit threatens to put 
" Jack " into her bag.J The Old Lad or Devil is also said to 
carry a nutting-bag with him. In the tale of " The Little 
Watercress Girl " the witch has a white bag. Now just as 

* Chapter 61. t p - * t !' 7- 


Hachel meant both mantle and fairy for witches and fairies 
are identical so Puck or Poake* (poke) meant both bag and 
fairy. We learn, then, that it was once a common practice to 
bury bags containing provisions, such as nuts, for the dead. 
And this is consistent with the well-known discoveries of food 
and " food-vessels " in English barrows. In the Edda Thialfi 
carries Thor's bag (kyl) or provision bag (nest-baggi) , and, in the 
Tale of Thridrandi, Thorhall says, 6t I laugh because many hills 
open, and every soul, both small and big, packs up his bag 
(byr sinn bagga) and makes flitting-day of it." Here the dead 
are coming out of their howes, each with his bag. 

In our tales trees and animals speak. u The Wizard of 
Lincoln " changes himself into a blackbird and speaks as such. 
In one tale a hawk, a parrot, and a ploughman talk to each other 
as though they were all hum an. t In another very remarkable 
story J a girl asks an old apple-tree to hide her from a witch 
whose bag of money she has stolen, and the witch asks every 
tree in the orchard if it has -seen the girl. In a third tale a 
girl talks to two robins, or robinets, as they are called in Derby- 
shire, who advise her to stuff her sieve with moss and daub it 
with clay when she fetches water therein from a well. In the 
tale of a The Glass Ball " a horse, a cow, and other animals are 
made to speak. From such tales we may infer that our 
ancestors, like savages, once regarded all things trees, birds, 
stones, in short, everything animate and inanimate as equally 
conscious with themselves and possessed of some power of reason- 
ing. If we compare these traditional remains with similar remains 
in countries far beyond the British seas, and if we also compare 
our English folk-lore with the beliefs of modern savages, we 
shall be forced to the conclusion that Great Britain was once 
inhabited by men whose condition can only be described as a 
condition of savagery. 

* Keightley's Fairy Mythology, 1889, p. 317. 

f " The Hawk and the Parrot," No. 11. 

$ " The Little Watercress Girl," No. 10. 

The Girl who fetched Water in a Riddle," No. 39, 


111 four of our tales the fairies appear as the friends and 
guides of mankind. They help the distressed and needy, and 
by gentle reprimand point out error and wrong, and show 
the better way. The children of a poor widower are washed 
and dressed, and his bread is baked by them. When a brother 
abandons his dead sister's child the fairies pull the clothes off his 
bed every night until he takes the child into his care. Even so 
venial an offence as gossiping meets with their rebuke, for 
when a grandmother having the care of her dead daughter's 
child goes out gossiping, the fairies, to show their sense of the 
danger in which the child might be, take it out of bed, though 
the door is locked, and dress it in its mother's clothes. A 
younger brother who has disagreed with his elder brother is 
admonished by the fairies amidst sounds of music to leave his 
elder brother's house and build a house elsewhere. In these 
last-mentioned tales the voice of the fairy is as the voice of 
conscience a power which is stronger than all the courts of 
law and equity. The law will not compel a man to maintain 
his dead sister's children, and will not punish a woman who 
goes gossiping and neglects her house. But the fairies sit in 
the high court of conscience, and provide a remedy for wrongs 
which are beyond the reach of human law. They lead the 
wrong-doer to do right by mild persuasion. Men who are not 
amenable to human judgments dare not disobey the gentle voice 
of the spirit. 

In the tale of " The Minister and the Fairies " the good 
priest who appears in the modern guise of a Methodist minister 
is invited to a supper prepared for " beautiful men and 
women," who represent fairies, or spirits of the dead. The 
point of the story consists in the minister's refusal of the food of 
the dead. He had entered the place of the dead, and had he 
tasted their food he could never have returned to the land of the 
living. " The Nuts and the Sheep," as I have observed in a 
footnote to that story, occurs in "A Hundred Merry Tales " and 
in other ancient books. It was evidently very popular in the 
Middle Ages, not only in England but in other parts of Europe. 


Tliis tale was told to me by a poor workman who could barely 
read, who could not write at all, and who possessed neither 
books nor access to books. I am certain that it had come down 
to him, without any help from books, from a distant antiquity. 
The tale is highly ludicrous, and the joke is at the expense of a 
parson and his sexton. My informant has preserved the inci- 
dent of the " bag of nuts." In the version given in "A 
Hundred Merry Tales " a rich husbandman makes his executor 
promise to bury a bag of nuts in his grave, and a miller goes the 
night after to fetch them out. In our version a young man goes 
to fetch a bag of nuts which lies beneath his dead mother's head 
in the churchyard. Did he want to show how brave he could be, 
and what little fear he had of ghosts, or is the bag of nuts intro- 
duced to make the tale as horrible and ludicrous as" possible? 
Or is it an accidental survival of some long-forgotten custom, 
such as the burying of nuts with a dead man to provide food for 
him in the next world ? We shall see that in Derbyshire food is 
still placed beside the dead.* Vessels containing the remains of 
food for the dead are found in ancient burial mounds on the 
Yorkshire wolds.t Mr. Hartland thinks that " the food buried 
with the dead by uncivilised tribes may be meant to provide 
them against the contingency of having to partake of the hospi- 
tality of the Shades, and so afford them a chance of escaping 
back to the upper air."J It was an old belief that unless a 
man refused the food of the dead, he would remain with them 
for ever. We are told in Gill's Myths and Songs of the South 
Pacific how a man " directed that, as soon as the breath was 
out of his body, a cocoa-nut should be cracked, and its kernel 
disengaged from the shell and placed upon his stomach under 
the grave-clothes." By stealthily eating the cocoa-nut instead 
of the disgusting food offered to him in Hades he managed to 
return to the upper world. Doubtless the nuts under the 
dead mother's head in our tale, like the peas and wheat found in 
Egyptian mummy cases, were put there for a similar purpose, 

* P. 123. f Greenwell's British Barron-*, jhixxim. 

t Science of Fairy Talcs, 1891, p. 47. 

Quoted by Mr. Hartland, vt mytnt, p. -io. 


and the son who ate them would take away her only chance of 
returning to life. 

The belief that giants, or other supernatural beings, were the 
makers and builders of great earthworks or stoneworks, such as 
ancient walls or roads, and the dikes about which so little is 
known, is apparent in one of our tales,* and also in another 
part of this book.f We have already seen how the fairies help 
man in his troubles and difficulties, and one of our tales will 
show how Hob Thurst, the friend of peasants, is ever ready at 
need. The invisible being who mowed the farmer's hay for 
him in the night, or made an incredible number of shoes for 
the cobbler, could accomplish greater works than these. In 
the tale called " The Devil's Ditch " a road is made by a name- 
less invisible being, who tells a horseman to ride in the direction 
that ho would have the road to go, and the road is made behind 
the horseman as he rides. But, just as in the case of Lot's wife, 
or Orpheus, his desire to do the forbidden thing overcomes him, 
and he looks back. Then the road stops, and in the place where 
the horseman turned round may be seen not a pillar of salt but 
a great ditch called " the Devil's Ditch," which can never be 
filled up to this day. A similar account is given of a road 
near Crowle, in Lincolnshire, which was made by the fairies 
and never can be finished, because a farmer could not resist 
the desire to turn round and see how the road-making was 
done. J 

It is very likely that folk-tales were distributed in England 
by wandering pedlars, tinkers, and merchants, many of whom 
came from foreign lands. I have dealt with this subject in 
another place, but I might here refer to the Old Norse um- 
renningr, the land-louper who went from house to house dis- 
tributing news and tales, and in short performing the office of a 
walking newspaper and story book. || A little story in this 
collection, called " The Endless Tale," which mentions locusts, 
has all the extravagance of Oriental imagination. 

* No. 26. t P. 135. $ P. 135. 

Hall of Waltheof, 1893, p. 215, gcq. 

II See Vigfusson and Powell's Icelandic Reader, pp. 218, 409. 



The "Jack Otter" of our tale"* is plainly HSttr or Odin, 
and had not the Old Norse word been here preserved he would 
have been called " Jack Hood." The mention of this name has 
led me to look into the ballads about Robin Hood, and to enquire 
whether he and his companions are not the gods Odin, Loki, 
and Honir, including, perhaps, Thor. I would suggest that 

1. Robin Hood = Hottr, Hood, or Deep Hood, i.e. Odin. 

2. Scathelocke = Loki. 

3. Little John = Honir. 

4. Much the miller's sonf = Thor? 

In Yolsunga Saga, Odin, Loki, and Honir are represented as 
going about in the world, like men in search of adventure ; and 
in the Eddie legend these same three gods go from home, over 
the hills, and across the wilderness. They come down into a 
dale where a herd of oxen are feeding, and, like freebooters, 
take an ox and seethe it. 

The name Scathelocke may stand for an Old Norse word 
Scada-loki, like skacta-mactr, killer, slayer, and as regards the 
compound we may compare Utgarda-loki. In the Edda we are 
told that Loki cut Sif 's hair off, for which Thor threatens to 
break every bone in his body. And hence we find him described 
as harskadi Sifjar. And then Scacta-loki would suit his well- 
known character as the foe of the gods, although he was their 
companion, and especially would it be suitable to him in his 
character of the destroyer of Balder. Negative evidence in 
favour of this opinion would be found in the non-existence of 
such a surname as Scathelocke, and I have not been able to find 
it. Moreover, the names of Robin Hood's companions, such as 
Reynold Greenleaf, are all fanciful or mythical. The name 
Loki seems to occur in Loxley, near Sheffield, for Lock or Lok 
may be inferred from Scathe-lock. Locs-ledh would be a very 
appropriate name for a rocky, unfilled place such as Loxley 
was till late years, and, like Canon Atkinson's Moorland Parish 

* No. 8. 

f Much maybe used in the old sense of " tall." Miller's son = meHu-sonr, son 
of the giantess, i.e. Earth ? 


u the devil of a country." For who but a fiend could have 
made it ? 

With regard to Little John, the evidence is of less weight, 
on account of the prefix " Little." But it is remarkable that 
we should have traditions about his tall stature. He is said to 
have been "seven foot high" in a late ballad printed by 
Ritson.* At Hathersage, in Derbyshire, the people stilt point 
out his grave in the village churchyard, and say that he was a 
very tall man. In the last century, Wilson, the Sheffield 
antiquary, wrote: " His grave is distinguished by two small 
stones set up at each end, and is four yards ten inches long 
betwixt stone and stone. "t Now, according to Vigfusson and 
Powell, the god Honir or Hoene is described in phrases taken 
from lost poems as langifdtr, or the long-legged one ; and as aur- 
konungr, the lord of the ooze. " Strange epithets," they say, 
" are these, but easily explainable when one gets at the etymology 
of Hoene = hohni = Skt. sakunas = Gk. cucnos = the white 
bird, swan, or stork, that stalks along in the mud, lord of the 
marish and it is now easy to see that this bird is the Creator 
walking in Chaos, brooding over the primitive mish-mash or 
tolm-bolm, and finally hatching the egg of the world." J 

There is one thing in a ballad about llobin Hood which, to 
me at least, is puzzling, viz. the place called " the Sayles." 
Thus in the a fourth fytto " we have : 

Take thy bowe in hande, sayd Robyn, 

Let Moch wende with the, 
And so shall Wyllyam Scathelock, 

And no man abide with me, 

And walke up into the Sayles 

And to Watlynge-strete, 
And wayte after ' some ' unketh gest, 

Up-chaunce ye may them mete 

* ii. 21. 

f In Bateman's Ten Years' Diggings, p. 251. 
t Corpus Poctlcum Borcale, i. p. cii. And see Edda 
Egilsson's ed., p. 56. 



They went up to the Sayles, 

These yemen all thre ; 
They loked est, they looked west, 

They myght no man S3. 

As to the word u Sayles " * in this poem, is it not possibly 
the same place as the Lith-shelf of Northern mythology, the 
place from which the gods looked down on the world? "On a 
day," says the Edda, " Freyr had gone to Lith-shelf, and 
beheld therefrom all the world. As he searched in the northern 
region he saw a great and fair house, and to the house went a 
woman/' &c.f And of the place called Hirninbjorg, or the 
Heavenly Mountains, the Edda says, " There is a mighty abode 
called Wala- shelf ; that place Odin has, and the gods made it, 
and thatched it with shining silver, and there in that hall is 
Lith-shelf, the high seat which is so called, and when the 
Father of All sits in that seat he beholds all the world."J The 
mention of Watling Street immediately after " the Sayles " 
makes this inference more probable, a heavenly, and not an 
earthly, way being intended. " The starry street in the night 
sky is known as the spirit-path to many savage tribes, and 
perhaps even to our forefathers (as the Editor's countryman, 
Mr. Gisli Brynjulfsson, has suggested) ' Vsettlinga strset.' " 

Amongst the earliest recollections of my childhood is the 
performance of the " Derby Ram," or, as we used to call it, the 
Old Tup. With the eye of memory I can see a number of 
young men standing one winter's evening in the deep porch of 
an old country house, and singing the ballad of the Old Tup. 
In the midst of the company was a young man with a sheep's 
skin, horns and all, on his back, and standing on all fours. 
What it all meant I could not make out, and the thing that 
most impressed me was the roar of the voices in that vault-like 

* Is it not the O. N. salr, hall, as in Svolnis salr, Walhall, 6$ ins salr, Odin's 
hall,&c. ? In Old Norse poetry there are many figures and metaphors for the 
sky compounded with this word, as for instance rtfSla-galr, star hall, or heavenly 
vault, berg-salr, mountain hall or sky. 

f Egilsson's ed., Reykjavik, 1848, p. 22. 

J Ibid., p. 12. 

Vigfusson and Powell's C. B. P., i. 420. 


porch. The sheep and the men were evidently too harmless to 
frighten any child, and a play in which the only act was the 
pretended slaughter of an old tup was not in itself attractive. 
I remember the following lines : 

As I was going to Darby, all on a market day, 

I met the finest tup, sir, that ever was fed with hay. 

Fay lay, fay lay, foklerol, older, I day. 

This tup was fat behind) sir, this tup was fat before, 
This tup was ten miles high, sir, indeed he was no more. 
Fay lay, &c. 

The wool that grew on his back, sir, it was so mighty high, 
The eagles built their nesses * in't, for I heard the young ones cry. 
Fay lay, &c. 

The butcher that stuck this tup, sir, was up to the eyes in blood, 
And all the old women in Darby were washed away by the flood. 
Fay lay, &c. 

Then the ballad went on to tell how and for what purpose 
people begged for his bones, eyes, teeth, hide, &c., but I cannot 
remember more of it. However, in a version printed by 
Jewitt,f they beg for his horns to make milking pails, and for 
his eyes to make footballs. And a tanner begs for his hide, 
which is big enough " to cover all Sinfin Moor." Here we 
have a ballad describing the slaughter of a being of monstrous 
size, and the uses to which his body was put. Now when I 
first read the Edda, and came to the passage which tells how the 
sons of Bor slew the giant Ymir, and how, when he fell, so much 
blood ran out of his wounds that all the race of frost-giants 
was drowned in it, I said to myself, " Why, that's the Old 
Tup " ! and when I read further on and found how they made 
the sea from his blood, the earth from his flesh, the rocks from 
his teeth, the heaven from his skull, it seemed to me that I had 
guessed rightly. The Old Tup was the giant Ymir, and the 
mummers of my childhood were acting the drama of the 

* Nests. t Derbyshire Ballads, 1867, p. 115. 



|T is not pretended that every superstitious belief or 
practice included under this heading in the fol- 
lowing pages is of great antiquity. For example, 
the belief that it is unlucky for a clock to stand 
opposite a fire cannot be older than the invention of clocks. 
Great as is the age of many of these superstitious beliefs, it 
must not be forgotten that the formation of such beliefs still 
goes on in the untaught or undeveloped mind. But whether 
these conceptions be of primitive origin, or of more recent 
growth, they form part of a barbarous philosophy. In the 
main they are the long-descended survivals of ideas which the 
ancestors of the English people held in common with races, 
now inhabiting the earth, whose evolution from barbarism has 
progressed more slowly than our own. They may be included 
under the modern word folk-lore, which a writer in the 
Quarterly Review has defined as " the geology of the human 

It may be well to examine briefly a few of the superstitious 
beliefs and practices recorded in this volume, mainly in the 
hope of learning something about the early condition of man 
in Great Britain. 

When an English peasant is told by a friend that his ill 
luck is owing to his having forgotten to bow to the new moon, 
we have evidence not only of a belief in the efficacy of the 
moon in influencing human destiny, but also of the existence of 

I have not met with any instance of actual sun-worship, 
though the luminary whose name appears in Sun-day must 
once have claimed a higher attention than any other object of 
worship. People are, however, buried with their faces towards 
the rising sun. The belief that the sun dances at his rising on 
Easter Sunday may be found in several collections of English 
folk-lore as well as here. Some have attempted to explain this 
belief by pretending that the popular notion is that the sun 


dances for joy because of the resurrection of Christ from the 
dead. The belief may be connected with the worship of Eastre, 
the dawn-goddess, but it has certainly not arisen from the 
Christian Resurrection. The man who gets up early on Easter 
morning to see the sun dance cannot tell why he does so. But 
his forefathers may have believed that the sun dances for joy at 
the resurrection of Spring from her wintry tomb. Christian 
festivals, like pagan, follow the course of the seasons. Christ, 
at the season of Yule tide, represents the birth of the year, 
and his rising from the dead is celebrated upon the return of 
spring. The old feasts are kept, and the old rites are fol- 
lowed, under new names, and even the name may remain, as 
it does in Easter. Though we may not find any actual survival 
of sun-worship, there are many survivals in England of the use 
of a well-known sun symbol. The sign of the cross, as found 
in the following pages, does not derive its origin from the 
instrument of the passion of Jesus. The laying of two straws 
across each other to make the rain cease, the making of this 
sign on the hand when a solitary crow crosses one's path, or on 
water in which another person has washed, the crossing of wort 
in the brewing vat to " keep out the witch," the fixing of a 
cross behind one's bedroom door to keep evil spirits away, the 
stitching of a twig: into the dress in the form of a cross, the 

& o / 

carrying about upon the person of a cross of " witch-wiggin " 
as a protection against witchcraft, the " putting out " of a rain- 
bow by laying two twigs or straws across each other these and 
similar practices are neither borrowed nor derived from the 
cross of Calvary. In China a mother dips her finger in 
the ashes of dried banana-skin and paints a cross on the fore- 
head of her sleeping babe " to avert the calamity of nursing a 
demon." * In our English churches the priest dips his finger 
in the water of the font and crosses the child's forehead, and 
we shall see hereafter that mothers in Derbyshire take a plate of 
salt into church at baptism, showing that in former times salt 
and water, like the ashes of the banana-skin, were regarded in 

* F, L. Journal, quoted by Mr. Hartland in The Science of Fairy Tales, p. 97. 


England as a protection against evil spirits and changelings. In 
all these cases the cross was the " wheel cross " or " ring cross/' 
the sign for the sun-god, which may be seen figured on many 
heathen remains of northern Europe, and particularly on the 
famous bronze trumpet or horn found at Wismar in Mecklen- 
burg.* We may ask ourselves, How did people begin to enter- 
tain the notion that the crossing of two straws would cause the 
rain to cease or the rainbow to go out ? To answer this question 
we must try to bring ourselves down to the mental state of 
uncivilised or savage races who knew nothing of natural laws, 
and w r ho attempted to account for natural phenomena in a way 
which seemed right to them. A savage would not fail to observe 
that the rain ceases when the sun shines brightly, and he would, 
in his way of reasoning, regard the sun as a being or power 
which, amongst other powers, had the power to make the rain 
cease. He would also consider that similar appearances produce 
similar effects, and therefore he would consider that if the sun 
can make the rain cease and the rainbow vanish, an image 
made in the likeness of the sun might have the same effect. 
Now the sun was regarded as a chariot drawn by horses, and 
hence the primitive man would make use of the sun-sign the 
spokes of the sun-wheel by laying two straws across or other- 
wise making the sign of the cross. The churches and church- 
yards of England still contain old stone monuments whereon the 
sun- wheel is carved, either as a separate emblem standing by 
the side of the Christian cross, or as forming part of or inter- 
woven w r ith the Christian cross. And so the cross on the tomb, 
like the cross on the child's forehead made as a protection 
against evil, would, in savage reasoning, protect the body beneath 
from the powers of darkness. Again, the cocks on our church 
steeples seem to have been originally placed there in the hope 
that they would induce fine weather. I have recorded the belief 
that " if a cock crows on a high building the weather will be 
fine."f Early reasoning may have taken this form : when 

* Worsaae's Industrial Arts of Denmark, 1882, p. G6. 

f Pout, p. 66. Compare the " cock-crowing stones "jnentioned^ on a subse- 
quent page. 


cocks crow on a high place it will be fine ; therefore, if we 
put a cock (or image of a cock) on the church steeple we shall 
attract fine weather. Our ancestors associated light and dawn 
with cock-crowing, and, in their barbarous reasoning, believed 
that cock-crowing brought the day. 

A similar method of reasoning might be shown in a hundred 
examples, and a considerable number of such examples is given 
in the following pages. Amongst them may be mentioned the 
belief that a man can be tortured by injuring an image made to 
resemble him, or the belief that warts can be removed by bury- 
ing green peas in the ground in the expectation that as the peas 
decay the warts will decay also, or in burning an effigy, or in 
sticking pins into the body of a live frog, or into the heart of a 
pigeon, for the purpose of causing pain or even death to an 
inconstant lover or to an enemy. 

Consciously or unconsciously, those who made the sign of the 
cross were attempting, by the magical influence of a rude image 
of the sun, as seen in the spokes of the u sun-wheel " (0), to do 
things which, in primitive or savage belief, the sun has the 
power to do, as, for instance, to make the rain cease. 

We may follow this strange reasoning to the seasons of the 
year, and we may expect a priori that a similar kind of reason- 
ing would be applied to the calendar. And we have the clearest 
evidence that it was so. Before we consider the evidence let me 
first of all give an illustration of the method of reasoning 
employed. In one of Mr. Du Maurier's drawings in Punch a 
child is represented as wagging a big dog's tail to make the dog 
happy. It is quite possible that a child might reason from his 
own observation in this way : dogs are happy when they wag 
their tails ; therefore if I wag a dog's tail I shall make him 
happy. And, as we have already seen, it is certain that primi- 
tive man did reason in this way. So when a Derbyshire man 
puts a coin into the spout on New Year's Eve and brings it into 
the house the minute after the clock has struck twelve at mid- 
night, what is his object in so doing? Clearly to make the 
coming year prosperous. Just as the child in Punch wags the 
dog's tail to make him happy, so the Derbyshire man brings a 


coin into the house to make the new year prosperous. It may 
be that when he does this he is quite unconscious of what the 
ceremony means, and that he is merely repeating a formality 
whose meaning has long been forgotten. Still there once was a 
time when his ancestors practised the ceremony with a real and 
earnest purpose. A similar rude process of reasoning goes on, 
or at least once went on, when a piece of money is put into the 
pocket of a new coat " for luck," the idea being that the coin 
will have a magical influence over the coat, and that the pro- 
sperity thus begun will be continued. A year or two ago a 
great disturbance arose amongst the cattle-drovers and butchers 
of Nottinghamshire about what they called " luck money." It 
seems that when a butcher bought a cow or other animal it was 
customary for the cattle-drover to return a small portion of the 
purchase money u for luck," and this custom the cattle-drovers 
sought to break down on the ground that it was an unfair tax 
on them. The matter was agitated with great vehemence, and 
many stormy meetings were held. But everybody had forgotten 
what the " luck money " really meant. To one portion of these 
agitators it seemed but a mere tax or unfair imposition, though 
it once had a serious and real significance, for the giving of a 
coin to the purchaser was intended to bring good luck to him or 
to the purchased animal itself, just as the taking of a coin into 
the house on New Year's Eve, or the putting of a coin into the 
pocket of a new coat,, was intended to bring good luck to the 
house and coat respectively. Arising in the beginning from 
rude and erroneous notions of cause and effect, this " luck 
money " came to be regarded as a magical means of inducing 
good fortune, and finally as an unfair tax which ought to be 
removed by organised resistance. 

To return to the calendar, from which we have digressed, we 
have seen that the bringing of a coin into the house at the dawn 
of the New Year was believed to be a means of ensuring the 
possession of money during that year. But important as it was 
that the household should be possessed of money, it was more 
important that it should have enough of food and fire. It was 
therefore desirable that as the year came in some means 


should be devised whereby the possession of these good things 
would be secured. Now as regards food, it happens that 
amongst the superstitious beliefs recorded in this collection is 
one vliicli declares that "if you refuse a mince pie at Christ- 
mas you will be unlucky during the following year." We learn 
therefore that the partaking of a mixed dish or cake as the new 
year comes in was believed to induce a sufficiency of food, and 
thus our Christmas mince pie must be regarded in the light of a 
charm or instrument of magic. The very number of ingredients 
of which mince pie is made, such as meat, fruit, flour, and so 
forth, shows its original purpose, all these things being regarded 
as necessities of life. 

It will be seen on a subsequent page that in Derbyshire a 
species of cake called " wassil cake," compounded in the same 
way as another cake well known in magic as " the speechless 
cake," is made on New Year's Day. Though we cannot be 
certain that our Christmas mince pie is a degenerate form of 
the " wassil cake/' we are at least sure that it was believed to 
induce u luck," or a sufficiency of food, and it w r ould be strange 
if the older " w T assil cake," so wonderfully compounded, were 
not intended for the same purpose. There is nothing in the 
present collection more interesting than the too brief description 
of the Christmas feast once held in the farmhouses of South 
Yorkshire. Though we may smile at its rudeness, that simple feast 
at Penistone* has all the solemnity of a sacred rite. It shows 
us the house-father and his family sitting round their table at 
the hour when, according to ancient belief, the spirits of dead 
men so filled the air that men feared to be alone, and partaking 
each in his turn of the food and drink which were to bless the 
coining year by a sufficiency of those good things. 

Jnst as the Christmas cake and the piece of money were 
intended as harbingers of food and wealth, so the Yule log and 
the big Christmas candle were intended to have a magic influence 
in securing warmth and light during the coming year. And 
can it not be said that the sprigs of evergreen brought into the 

* p. 103. 


house at the dawn of the opening year were intended as har- 
bingers of good crops and plenteous harvests ? The origin of 
the festival customs which usher in Christmas or the New Year 
must not be sought in the desire to express joy at the birth of a 
Saviour, or even to express joy at the birth of the New Year. 
We must look for that origin in the magical effect which the 
presence of food, warmth, light, and money in the house on New 
Year's morning was supposed to have upon the year which was 
to come. 

But how can we explain the dark-haired " lucky bird/ J or 
the dark -haired man or boy who must be the first to enter the 
house on Christmas morning ? It is just possible that we may 
find the explanation in the fact that the aboriginal and conquered 
race which once occupied these islands was dark-skinned and 
black-haired. If it be objected that such an inference would be 
vitiated by the fact that the incomer must always be of the male 
sex, and that we have therefore a mixed magical omen, the 
answer is that a woman must not enter the house on Christmas 
Day at all,* probably because she, being " the weaker vessel," 
would bring weakness and not strength into the household. 
But, of course, a contrary belief that the man must be light- 
haired, as recorded by Mr. Henderson, would, if the belief .were 
at all general, be a fatal objection to this supposition. t How- 
ever, Mr. Henderson has told us that in the north of England 
the first person to enter the house must have " a high-arched 
instep, a foot that < water runs under.' "{ With regard to the 
high instep, Dr. Tylor of Oxford tells me that his impression 
is that it is the Spaniards who pride themselves on it, and I 
have heard this from other sources. The old Northern poem 
Eigsmal, believed by its editors to have been written by a 
Dane living in the British Isles about the eleventh century, 
describes the thrall as of swarthy skin, as having long heels, and 
a snub nose (nidr-biugt nef), that is a short or stumpy nose 
with the end cut off The negro is said to have long heels, 

* P. lQQ,po8t. 

f Folk-lore of the Northern Counties, 1879, p. 73; and see post, p. 106. 

J Henderson, p. 74. 

Corpus Poet. Borcale, i. 236, 515. 


but in a letter to me Dr. Tylor says, " I once looked into the 
alleged peculiarity of the negro as to projecting heel, but did 
not find it well borne out by facts, and should not assert it with- 
out a good deal more proof than I have seen." In discussing 
the question of the secluded Lincolnshire " Yellow Bellies," Dr. 
Morton of Sheffield, who was born in a Lincolnshire village, 
tells me that he never thought that the Yellow Bellies " were of 
the colour we now call yellow, but something of a bronze shade, 
and never, I believe, in company with light hair and eyes." 
And he says, " In Alford, my native town, there is a part occu- 
pied by a set who have a bad name, and with whom the ordinary 
farm labourer will have nothing to do. They are poachers, 
hawkers, and tinkers, rarely regular labourers, and they are 
sometimes ignorantly supposed to be gypsies." It is interesting 
to observe that in Wyclif's translation of the Bible, yellow trans- 
lates furvus in the Vulgate, i.e. 9 dusky, swarthy. And then we 
must remember that the gypsies are feared, and that the people 
believe in their magical powers.* If more evidence of this kind 
could be got together it might be inferred that the dark-haired 
" lucky bird " or " first foot" who must "let in" Christmas 
was originally a member of a dark-skinned subject race, and 
a very important conclusion might also be drawn as to the 
nationality of the long-heeled, snub-nosed thrall in Eigsmal. 
And let us not forget the well-known tendency of conquering 
races to ascribe magical powers to the conquered. 

In the chapter recording " Local and Ceremonial Customs " 
it is said that a woman must bind at least one sheaf at harvest, 
and that she must also assist in the planting of seeds, such as 
potatoes, the belief being that a crop will not flourish unless a 
woman has had a hand either in the sowing or the harvesting. 
It seems most reasonable to explain this custom, or rather the 
belief which gave rise to the custom, by reference to a savage 
process of reasoning which may be formulated thus : women 
are fertile, for they bring forth children ; therefore a crop will 
be fertile if a woman take part in the sowing. By an analogous 

* Post, pp. 93, 94. 


process of barbarous reasoning the whole course of the crop, 
from sowing to harvesting, would be rendered more prosperous 
by association with a woman. The belief may, however, be a 
survival from a time when women cultivated the soil, as modern 
Africans do now. 

One of the most interesting relics of paganism which I have 
had the good luck to discover is that which relates to the three 
Fates or .Norns. In the section entitled " Two Pagan Hymns " 
mention will be found of three maids known as " the threble 
Timbers," two of whom are " lily white," and the third is dressed 
in green. These maids are described as living for evermore, and 
they are plainly the three Fates. The same beings are also 
twice mentioned elsewhere in this collection. The girls who set 
the table on New Year's Eve with knives, forks, plates, and 
chairs for three guests, whom they expect to appear at the hour 
of midnight, are, without knowing it, spreading the table for 
the three Fates, though in the charm which they practise they 
cvpect their future husbands to appear.* In the collection of 
superstitions condemned by Burchard, Bishop of Worms, who 
died in 1024, we are told that the German women of his time 
had the custom, at certain times of the year, of spreading tables 
in their houses with meat and drink, and laying three knives, 
that if the three sisters should come (whom Burchard interprets 
as being equivalent to the Roman Parcae) they might partake 
of their hospitality. f Thus, in a Derbyshire village, at the 
end of the nineteenth century, we find this old superstition in 
full vigour, the only difference being that the future husbands 
of the women, instead of the Fates, are expected to appear. 
In the JSTornagests Saga we are told that there travelled about 
in the land volvur, who are called spdkonur, who foretold to 
men their fate. People invited them to their houses and gave 

* P. 84. 

f Wright's Celt, Roman, and Saxon, 4th ed., p. 340. Burcbard's words arc : 
" Fecisti ut quaedam muliercs in quibusdam temporibus anni facere solcnt, ut in 
dorao sua mensara praeparares et tuos cibos et potum cum tribus cultellis supra 
mcnsam ponercs, ut si vcnisscnt tres illae sorores, quas antiqua posteritas et 
antiqua stuithia Farcas nominavit, ibi reficerentur." 


them good cheer and gifts. These beings are identical with the 
Norns. * 

A very striking account was given to me of the appearance 
of tho Fates on the common at Cold- Aston, in the parish of 
Dronfield. The narrator spoke of " three tall, thin women 
standing in a line with three hour glasses in their hands." of 

O O / 

" ti tall man three yards high with an oak tree over his 
shoulder," and of " a man with a scythe over his shoulder." 
He said that " the appearance of the women with the 
hour glasses meant that such or such a person had not more 
than three hours to live," that the giant with the oak tree came 
to tell that person's age, the tree being a young tree if the 
person were young, and an old tree if he were old. The man 
with the scythe came to cut the person down. The u three 
tall, thin women standing in a line " are the Norns, and if I 
had found an old marble statue of the Matres Deae buried on 
the common I could not have been more astonished than I was 
when I heard these words. This popular remembrance, handed 
down in England through so many ages, of the awful 

aire /Bporolaiu 
<yeivopevoicn $$ov<7iv e^eiv ayaOov re KCLKQV re 

was too plain to be misunderstood. 

The existence of divinities implies sacrifice,, and we shall see 
that sacrifice to pagan divinities still continues in England. In 
some collieries in North Derbyshire the colliers leave in the pit 
every week a hundredweight of coal " for the fairies." When 
children gather fruit, such as blackberries or bilberries, in the 
woods or on the moors, they throw the first fruit which they 
have plucked behind their backs and say, " Pray God send me 
good luck to-day." Here we have distinct offerings of first- 
fruits to the local deities diis campestrilus. Another offering 
of first-fruits may he seen in the practice of setting two beans, or 
seeds of any kind, at the beginning of a row which is planted 
singly, and in the throwing up of a spade full of earth when 

* Grimm's Teut. Myth., trans, by Stally brass, p. 409. 


one hires or buys a piece of land, in the belief that the crops 
will not prosper unless these things are done. And then we 
have the custom, till lately prevalent in the High Peak, of 
dropping pins into wells as votive offerings to the " fairies " or 
goddesses who presided over them. 

The sacred character of salt comes out very clearly in our 
collection. A mixture of salt and water, called "holy lymph," 
will purify a dead man's garment. Prayers offered near to salt 
will be answered. Oaths are taken on salt, and a child which 
is baptized near a plate of salt brought by the parents into 
church will be sure to go to heaven. 

We shall meet with the strange fancy that the souls of the 
dead dwell in flowers. I have recorded the belief that souls 
dwell in the flowers of the broad bean (faba vulgar I s)j and that 
the hawthorn has u a deathly smell." We are also told that 
the fairies, which are the souls of the dead, dwell in foxglove 
bells, and the reader will be reminded of Ariel's song in the 
Tempest : 

Where the bee sucks, there suck I : 
In a cowslip's bell I lie. 

The belief that accidents are frequent when broad beans are 
in flower means that the presence of unhallowed spirits in those 
flowers is fraught with harm to the neighbourhood. Connected 
with this belief is the association of murdered men's ghosts with 
a sweet odour of thyme. The more luscious or sweet-smelling 
flowers appear to have been their favourite abodes ; the sweeter 
the perfume, the more dangerous the ghost. The English fairy 
tale of Jack and the Bean Stalk may be connected with the belief 
that souls dwell in bean flowers. 

The custom of preserving lost teeth in a jar till burial is 
practised in South Yorkshire, and in the northern parts of 
Derbyshire. It is related to the old practice of burying the 
dead with their clothes, weapons, shoes, and even food, in their 
tombs a practice which arose from the well-known belief, 
current amongst uncivilised men, that the dead require the 
bodily equipments which they have had in life. 


The inhuman practice of burying children alive in the 
foundations of buildings, as a sacrifice to the local deity to 
ensure the stability of such buildings, seems to come out in the 
nursery rime printed on p. 147. In it the nurse is telling 
how a man had a child, how he put the child into various 
things, such as a log of wood, an apple pasty, and other impos- 
sible situations, until at last she comes to the climax, and says: 

He put him in an old house side, 
And there he lived, and there he died, 
And nobody either laughed or cried. 

She is telling what happened in the old days. They walled 
the child up alive in the foundation, where it lived a few hours 
or a few days and died."* And as this was a sacrifice or religious 
duty " nobody either laughed or cried." 

I have recorded the popular belief that Morris dancing is 
fairy dancing, that Morris dancing means fairy dancing, and 
that the dance itself was a taken away from the fairies." There 
are some people who attribute nearly everything for which they 
cannot account to the fairies. Still the belief is remarkable, 
and not without significance. It implies the further belief that 
the fairies, or dead men's ghosts, once danced on the Derby- 
shire hills, and makes us understand the lines : 

The piper of Shacklow, 

The fiddler of Finn ; 

The old woman of Demon's Dale 

Calls them all in. 

There is something beautiful and strange in the music to 
which the Morris dancers dance, f If ever music were not of 
this world it was this. To hear it is to believe that Morris 
dancing was a religious rite. Has it not descended to us 
from a dusky Iberian people, once a distinct caste in England, 

* See the chapter on " Foundation Sacrifice " in my Hall of Watheof, 1893, 
p. 62. 

t Printed on p. 136 by the kindness of T. W. Froggatt, Esq., formerly of 



in whose magical powers and religion the dominant races 
believed ? 

In his Dictionary Professor Skeat has concluded that a 
Morris dancer was a Moorish dancer. Assuming that such is 
the case, we may ask ourselves why these dancers were so called. 
Are we to suppose that English peasants borrowed the dance 
from the Moors in historical times ? Or are we to believe that 
it was handed down in England from an early period by the 
remnants of a dark-coloured Iberian people who, according to 
Tacitus, crossed over from Spain,* and were, in fact, Moors ? 
In Yorkshire a rude Christmas play, known as u The Peace 
Egg," is performed. In that play the chief act is the slaughter 
by St. George of England of a " Black Prince of Paradine," 
whom St. George stigmatizes as a " black Morocco dog." The 
play seems to represent an old feud between a light-haired 
and a dark-haired people once inhabiting England; and it may 
be that in the popular speech the dark-haired people were once 
known here as Moors. If this dramatized contest between 
St. George of England and the " black Morocco dog " does not 
point back to a time when conflicts existed in this country 
between a dusky race of Iberian or Moorish origin and a light- 
haired people which conquered and enslaved them, to what 
can we ascribe its origin ? We can only say that the play is of 
historical or literary, and not of traditional, origin. Bui the 
form of the play renders an historical or literary origin impos- 
sible, and the whole performance seems to be nothing else but 
a rude and popular reminiscence of an ancient national feud. 
And I would draw attention to the fact that Morris is an ancient 
surname in England. 

It seems relevant to mention here an old earthwork, extend- 
ing for some miles in length, near Sheffield, known in one part 
of its course as Barber Balk.f The direction of the earthwork is 
from south-west to north-east, and the ditch is uniformly on the 
southern side, as if it had been intended as a defence against 

* Ayricola, 11. 

t See my Hall of Waltheof, pp. 22, 242, ?#., where other instances of place- 
names beginning with " Barber " are given. 


attack delivered from that side. Some modern scholars identify 
the Barbara, or Berbers, a people inhabiting Barbary, or the 
Saracen countries along the north coast of Africa, with the 
Iberians.* Can it be that an invading Celtic people threw 
up this earthwork as a defence against a dusky Iberian foe 
coining from the south, and that the ancient name of the earth- 
work has been handed down from a remote time, thereby pre- 
serving its true history ? And is it not possible that the Iberian, 
the Morris or Moor, the " black Morocco dog " of the traditional 
play, and the Barber are identical ? A great authority on early 
Britain " has a'ccepted and employed the theory advanced by 
ethnologists that the early inhabitants of this country were of 
Iberian origin. "t This earthwork was known in one part of its 
course as Danes Balk, and is known in another part as Barber 
Balk. Is it unreasonable to suppose that the " Dane " was a 
Cimbrian invader coming from the Cimbric or Danish penin- 
sula, and that the a Barber " was his Iberian enemy? In 
determining the age of any prehistoric earthwork, excavation 
is, of course, desirable, and as regards the earthwork here 
mentioned this remains to be done. The discovery, however, of 
flint implements and Roman coins upon and in the mounds 
points to a very early origin. 

With a view to a further and enlarged edition of this book, I 
should be thankful for other stories of the kind here printed, 
and for old traditions and folk-lore. Contributions, which will 
be duly acknowledged, should be sent to me at 3, Westbourne 
Road, Sheffield. 

My thanks are hereby tendered to those who have put into 
my hands the material here printed. Amongst these I must 
particularly mention Mrs. Turner of Leeds, and formerly of 
Norton, in Derbyshire, Mr. T. W. Froggatt, Mr. F. J. Smith, 
Mr. R. F. Drury, the Rev. W. Slater Sykes, the late Mr. 
William Furness, Mrs. Button. Miss Alice Halifax has 
obtained a very large portion both of the tales and traditional 

* See an article on the Iberians in Encycloj). Brit. 
f Prof. Rhys in Celtic Britain, p. vii. 


remains from informants whose lips would have revealed 
little to me, and I am indebted to Mrs. Hugh Tomasson, of 
Broomhillj Sheffield, for many curious items of folk-lore, 
obtained chiefly from the East Riding. 

Originally I intended to include in this book a collection of 
games which I had made. But as Mrs. Gomme was printing 
her Traditional Games, I gave them to her, and they are now 
being printed in that excellent work. 

In these days the value of tradition is not likely to be called 
in question, nor is it so easily falsified as the inexperienced may 
think. Like the common law, or lex non scripta, it abides in 
the memories of the people, and they, in varying degrees of 
fidelity, have handed it down from age to age. 



[NCE upon a time there was a merchant who 
travelled about- the world a great deal. On one 
of his journeys thieves attacked him, and they 
would have taken both his life and his money if 
a large dog had not come to his rescue and driven the thieves 

When the dog had driven the thieves away he took the 
merchant to his house, which was a very handsome one, and 
he dressed his wounds and nursed him until he was well. 

As soon as he was able to travel the merchant began his 
journey home, but before starting he told the dog how grate- 
ful he was for his kindness, and asked him what reward he 
could offer in return, and he said he would not refuse to give 
him the most precious thing that he had. 

And so the merchant said to the dog, ee Will you accept a 
fish that I have that can speak twelve languages ? " 

" No," said the dog, " I will not." 

" Or a goose that lays golden eggs ? " 

" No," said the dog, " I will not." 

" Or a mirror in which you can see what anybody is think- 
ing about ? " 

"No," said the dog, " I will not." 

* From Norton, in Derbyshire. 


<( Then what will you have ? " said the merchant. 

" I will have none of such presents," said the dog, " but 
let me fetch your daughter and take her to my house." 

When the merchant heard this he was grieved, but what 
he had promised had to be done, so he said to the dog, "You 
can come and fetch my daughter after I have been at home 
for a week." 

So at the end of the week the dog came to the merchant's 
house to fetch his daughter, but when he got there he stayed 
outside the door, and would not go in. 

But the merchant's daughter did as her father told her, 
and came out of the house dressed for a journey and ready 
to go with the dog. 

When the dog saw her he looked pleased, and said : 
<c Jump on my back, and I will take you away to my 

So she mounted on the dog's back, and away they went at 
a great pace until they reached the dog's house, which was 
many miles off. 

But after she had been a month at the dog's house she 
began to mope and cry. 

" What are you crying for ? " said the dog. 

" Because I want to go back to my father," she said. 

The dog said, " If you will promise me that you will not 
stay at home more than three days I will take you there. 
But, first of all," said he, " what do you call me ? " 

" A great, foul, small-tooth dog," said she. 

'< Then," said he, " I will not let you go." 

But she cried so pitifully that he promised again to take 
her home. " But before we start," said he, " tell me what 
you call me." 

" Oh," she said, " your name is Sweet-as-a-honeycomb." 

" Jump on my back," said he, " and I'll take you home." 

So he trotted away with her on his back for forty miles, 
when they came to a stile. 

" And what do you call me ? " said he, before they got 
over the stile. 


Thinking that she was safe on her way, the girl said, a A 
great, foul, small-tooth dog." 

But when she said this he did not jump over the stile, but 
turned right round about at once, and galloped back to his 
own house with the girl on his back. 

Another week went by, and again the girl wept so bitterly 
that the dog promised her again to take her to her father's 

So the girl got on the dog's back again, and they reached 
the first stile as before, and then the dog stopped and said, 
" And what do you call me ? " 

" Sweet-as-a-honeycomb," she replied. 

So the dog leaped over the stile, and they went on for 
twenty miles until they came to another stile. 

" And what do you call me ? " said the dog, with a wag of 
his tail. 

She was thinking more of her father and her own home 
than of the dog, so she answered, " A great, foul, small- 
tooth dog/' 

Then the dog was in a great rage, and he turned 
right round about and galloped back to his own house as 

After she had cried for another week the dog promised 
again to take her back to her father's house. So she mounted 
upon his back once more, and when they got to the first stile 
the dog said, "And what do you call me ? " 

" Sweet-as-a-honeycomb," she said. 

So the dog jumped over the stile, and away they went 
for now the girl made up her mind to say the most loving 
things she could think of until they reached her father's 

When they got to the door of the merchant's house the 
dog said, " And what do you call me ? " 

Just at that moment the girl forgot the loving things that 

she meant to say, and began, " A great " but the dog 

began to turn, and she got fast hold of the door latch, and 
was going to say " foul/' when she saw how grieved the dog 

B 2 


looked and remembered how good and patient he had been 
with her, so she said, " Sweeter-than-a-honeycomb." 

When she had said this she thought the dog would have 
been content and have galloped away, but instead of that he 
suddenly stood up on his hind legs, and with his fore legs he 
pulled off his dog's head and tossed it high in the air. His 
hairy coat dropped off, and there stood the handsomest 
young man in the world, with the finest and smallest teeth 
you ever saw. 

Of course they were married, and lived together happily. 


IT happened once that two young men met in a churchyard, 
about eight o' clock in the evening. 

One of them said to the other, " Where are you going ? " 

The other answered, " I'm going to get a bag of nuts that 
lies underneath my mother's head in this churchyard. But 
tell me, where are you going ? " 

He said, "I'm going to steal a fat sheep out of this field. 
Wait here till I come back." 

Then the other man got the nuts that were under his dead 
mother's head, and stood in the church porch cracking them. 
In those days it was the custom to ring a bell at a certain 
time in the evening, and just as the man was cracking the 
nuts the sexton came into the churchyard to ring it. But 
when he heard the cracking of the nuts in the porch he was 
afraid, and ran to tell the parson, who only laughed at him, 
and said, " Go and ring, fool." However, the sexton was so 
afraid, that he said he would not go back unless the parson 
would go with him. After much persuasion the parson 
agreed to go, but he had the gout very badly, and the sexton 

* From Calver, in Derbyshire. Another version of this story is given in 
A Hundred Mcry Talys, 1526, reprinted by Oesterley in 1866. 


had to carry him on his back. When the man in the porch 
who was cracking the nuts saw the sexton coming into the 
churchyard with the parson on his back he thought it was 
the man who had just gone out to steal the sheep, and had 
returned with a sheep on his back. So he bawled out, 
u Is it a fat one ? " * When the sexton heard this he was so 
frightened that he threw the parson down and said, " Aye, 
and thou canst take it if thou lik'st." So the sexton ran 
a',vay as fast as he could, and left the parson to shift for 
himself. But the parson ran home as fast as the sexton. 


THEEE was once a country tailor who had two apprentices, 
and he used to keep them at work till eleven o'clock at night. 
One day the tailor had to go to the town to buy cloth, and 
he came back late in the evening, passing on his way home 
through a lonely wood. The apprentices, who knew that he 
would come home through the wood, went out after dark, 
and got up a tree near the footpath on which they knew that 
their master would pass. In a short time they heard the 
tailor coming, and one of them called out " Abraham." The 
tailor answered, " Yes, my Lord," thinking it was God who 
had spoken to him. One of the apprentices in the tree 
said : 

If thou keepest thy lads at work till eleven 
Thou shalt not enter the kingdom of: heaven. 

When the tailor had gone the boys ran quickly home by a 
shorter way, and were at work when their master reached 
the house. As soon as he had opened the door he said to 
them, " Put your work away, lads, put your work away," and 
they were never kept so late at work afterwards. 

* " Estne bcne pinguis quern portas ? " So in a version of the story quoted by 
Oesterley from the Scald Cc'li, 1 180. 
f From Culver, in Derbyshire. 



ONCE a father made a bet with his son that he dare not go 
into the bone-house in their village churchyard at midnight 
and fetch a skull out without taking a light with him. 

The son accepted the wager, and on the following night 
went down into the bone-house. 

In the meantime the father had told a man to hide himself 
in the bone-house, and watch the boy. 

When the boy got down amongst the bones, he picked up 
a skull. Then the man who had hidden himself said, " Don't 
take that, for that's my mother's skull." So the boy threw 
it down, and picked up another skull, when the man said, 
" Don't take that, for that's my grandmother's." So the boy 
threw that down, and picked another up, but the man said, 
" And that's my grandfather's." Then the boy shouted, 
" Why, they're all thy mother's, or thy grandmother's; but 
I've come for a skull, and I'll have one." So the boy 
picked one up and ran home to his father, and won the 


ONE Sunday afternon, as two children, named Kate and 
Willie, came out of church, they agreed to go for a walk 
together. So they walked on until they came to a large 
mountain, which made everyone who went near it go to 
sleep. As they drew near to the mountain they began to 
be sleepy, and at last they both fell asleep at the foot of the 
mountain. After they had lain there awhile a giant came 

* From Calver, in Derbyshire. Compare Grimm, No. 4. In the notes Grimm 
mentions a similar story from the neighbourhood of Paderhorn, in which a 
bone-house is mentioned. 

t From North Derbyshire. The league boots denote the swift pace of the 
giant. Grimm's Tcut. Myth., p. 


by, and woke the children up, saying that he would take the 
boy and kill him, and keep Kate to clean his four-and-twenty 
league boots. So he took them to his castle, which was on 
the top of the mountain, and gave them in charge of the old 
woman who kept house for him. Willie soon escaped from 
the castle, but Kate could not find her way out. When the 
giant arose the next morning and found the boy gone he was 
very angry, and the first thing that he did was to make Kate 
clean his boots. After the boots were cleaned he said, " I 
will go and bathe me in the river, and thou, Kate, shalt go 
with me, and hold in thy hands this golden ring and golden 
ball." Now Kate knew that if you put the ball inside the 
ring and wished something your wish would be granted. 
When the giant had got well into the water, Kate slipped 
the ball into the ring, and wished that the giant were leagues 
away and herself safe in her own village. Immediately she 
found herself walking up the village street, and meeting her 
father and mother and Willie coming out to seek her. And 
so Kate became the owner of the ring and the ball, and 
whenever after that she wished anything her wish was 


JACK was a boy who sold butter-milk. One day as he was 
going his rounds he met a witch who asked him for some 
of his butter-milk, and told him that if he refused to give 
it she would put him into a bag that she carried over her 

But Jack would not give the witch any of his butter-milk, 
so she put him into her bag, and walked off home with him. 

But as she was going on her way she suddenly remem- 
bered that she had forgotten a pot of fat that she had 

* Such was the title of the story given to me. It comes from Nottingham- 


bought in the town. Now Jack was too heavy to be carried 
back to the town, so the witch asked some men who were 
brushing the hedge by the roadside if they would take care 
of her bag until she came back. 

The men promised to take care of the bag, but when the 
witch had gone Jack called out to them and said, " If you 
will take -me out of this bag and fill it full of thorns I will 
give you some of my butter-milk." 

So the men took Jack out of the bag and filled it with 
thorns, and then Jack gave them some butter-milk, and ran 

When the witch came back from the town she picked up 
her bag, threw it over her shoulder, and walked away. But 
she had not gone far before the thorns began to prick her 
back, and she said, " Jack, I think thou'st got some pins 
about thee, lad." 

As soon as she had got home she emptied the bag upon a 
clean white sheet that she had ready. But when she found 
that there was nothing in the bag but thorns she was very 
angry and said, ' ' Fll catch thee to-morrow, Jack, and I'll boil 

The next day she met Jack again, and asked him for some 
butter-milk, and told him that if he would not give it her 
she would put him into her bag again. But Jack said he 
would give her no butter-milk, so she put him into hor 
bag, and again she bethought her that she had forgotten 
something for which she would have to go back to the 

This time she left the bag with some men who were 
mending the road. Now as soon as the witch had gone 
Jack called out to them and said, " If you will take me out 
and fill this bag full of stones I will give you some of my 

Then the men took Jack out of the bag, and he gave them 
the butter-milk. 

When the witch came back she threw the bag over her 
shoulder as before, and when she heard the stones grinding- 


and rattling she chuckled and said, "My word, Jack, thy 
bones do crack." 

When she got home she emptied the bag on the white 
sheet again. But when she saw the stones she was very 
angry, and swore that she would boil Jack when she caught 

The next day she went out as before, and met Jack again, 
and asked for some butter-milk. But Jack said, " No," 
again, so she put him into her bag, and went straight home 
with him, and threw him out upon the white sheet. 

When she had done this she went out of the house and 
locked Jack in, intending to boil him when she came back. 
But whilst she was away Jack opened all the cupboards in 
the house and filled the bag with all the pots that he could 
find. After he had done this he escaped through the 
chimney, and got safe home. 

When the witch came back she emptied the bag upon the 
sheet again, and broke all the pots that she had in the house. 
After this she never caught Jack any more. 


THERE was once a farmer's wife who made a pudding and 
set it on the fire to be boiled. As soon as the water began 
to boil the pudding jumped, and at last it jumped out upon 
the floor and rolled about as if it were bewitched. As the 
pudding was rolling about on the floor a travelling tinker 
came to the door, and the woman picked the pudding up and 
gave it to him. So the tinker put it into his budget and 
slung it over his back. As he trudged along the road the 
pudding kept rolling about in the budget till at last it broke 
in pieces, when out came a little fairy child who cried : 
" Take me to my dathera dad, take me to my dathera dad." 

* From Eyam, in Derbyshire. Compare the preceding tale and compare both 
stories with " Johmiy-Cakc " (No. xxviii.) in Mr. Jacobs' JtnyTtsli Fairy Talcs. 
Davi'l Nutt, 1890. is " dathera " related to leel. dutfra, to wheedle ? 



IN Lincolnshire there once lived a man, called Jack Otter, 
who had been married nine times, and had murdered all his 
wives one after another. One day he was angry with the 
woman that he was courting, and whom he intended to take 
for his tenth wife. So he asked her to go for a walk with 
him, and when they had got into a lonely place he stabbed 
her and buried her on the spot. But his crime was found 
out, and he was gibbeted on a post in the lane. Now a bird, 
called the willow-biter, built her nest in the dead man's 
mouth as he hung on the gallows tree, and brought up her 
fledgelings in it. And hence this riddle is asked : 

There were ten tongues within one head ; 
And one went out to fetch some bread 
To feed the living in the dead. 


A GIRL who was leaving her master's service at a farm in the 
country told her sweetheart that she would meet him near a 
stile where they had met many times before. This stile was 
overhung by a tree. The girl got there before him and 
found a hole dug underneath the tree, and a pickaxe and 
spade lying by the side of the hole. She was much 
frightened at what she saw, and got up the tree. After 
she had been up the tree awhile her sweetheart came, and 

* From Lincolnshire. Compare the next story. Otter here stands for Hottr, 
the hatted one, a name of Odin, on account of the slouching hat or hood 
which he wore, In Haya-mal Odin says, "I mind me hanging on the gallows- 
tree nine whole nights, wounded with the spear, offered to Odin, myself to 
myself ; on the tree, whose roots no man knoweth. They gave me no loaf ; they 
held no horn to me." Vigfusson and Powell's Cojyms Poetlcum Boreale, 
i. p. 24. 

f From North Derbyshire. Compare the preceding tale, and a tale in Halli- 
well's Popular Rhymes and Nursery Talcs, 1849 p. 49 caJled " The Oxford 


another man with him. Thinking that the girl had not yet 
come, the two men began to talk, and the girl heard her 
sweetheart say, " She will not come to-night. We'll go 
home now, and come back and kill her to-morrow night." 
As soon as they had gone the girl came down the tree and 
ran home to her father. When she had told him what she 
had seen, the father pondered a.while and then said to his 
daughter : " We will have a feast and ask our friends, and 
we will ask thy sweetheart to come and the man that came 
with him to the tree." So the two men came along with the 
other guests. In the evening they began to ask riddles of 
each other, but the girl who had got up the tree was the last 
to ask hers. She said : 

I'll rede you a riddle, I'll rede it you right, 
"Where was I last Saturday night ? 
The wind did blow, the leaves did shake, 
When 1 saw the hole the fox did make.* 

When the two men who had intended to murder the girl 
heard this they ran out of the house. 


THEEE was once a little girl who had to sell watercresses for 
her living because she was very poor. One day she met an 
old witch who said to her, " If you will come and help me to 
keep my house I will sell your watercresses for you." 

The little girl said, " I will try my best." 

" But there is one thing you must promise me," said the 
witch, " and that is this : you must not look up the chimney." 

* The following variation occurs : 

One moonlight night as I sat high 

Waiting for one but two came by, 

The boughs did bend, my heart did quake 

To see the hole the fox did make, 
f From Nottinghamshire* 


The girl promised that she would not, and went to live at 
the witch's house. After she had been there a few days 
she wanted badly to look up the chimney, and she said to 
herself, " Surely there would be no harm in just having one 

So she peeped up the chimney, and saw a white bag there, 
and pulled it down. Then she opened it and found that it 
was full of money. Her eyes glistened at the sight of so 
much wealth, and she said, " I mean to keep this, for I am 
very poor." 

So she carried the bag of money into an orchard close by 
where many fruit-trees grew. 

First of all she went up to the apple-tree, and said, ^Apple- 
tree, apple-tree, hide me ; and if any one shall ask thee 
whether thou hast seen me, say ' I have not/ y 

So the apple-tree promised to hide her. When the witch 
came back and found that her bag of money was gone she 
looked everywhere for the little watercress girl. She searched 
all through the house, and at last she went into the orchard. 

First of all she went up to the gooseberry-bush, and said, 
" Gooseberry -bush, gooseberry-bush, hast thou seen a little 
girl with a white bag in her hand ? " 

But the gooseberry-bush said, " Nay." Then the witch 
went to every tree in the garden, asking each the same 
question, but all the trees said, " Nay." 

At last she came to the apple-tree, which said " Nay," 
like the other trees. 

So the little girl was hidden by the apple-tree, and when 
the witch had gone to bed she carried the bag of money 


ONE day as a parrot was walking about in a garden a hawk 
came and. flew away with her. As the hawk was carrying 

* From Culver, in Derbyshire. 


the parrot over a Held the parrot saw a ploughman who had 
weak, sore knees, and called out to him, "I say, old rotten 
shins, I ride, I ride ! " 

The ploughman answered, " Aye, and thou'lt have to pay 
for it soon." 

The hawk then flew into the hedge on the other side of 
the field and began to pluck the parrot's feathers off. Whilst 
he was doing this the parrot kept crying, " Oh, damn thee, 
thou lugs, thou lugs ! " 

After a struggle the parrot got loose and went and told 
the ploughman how the hawk had lugged. 


A FAEMEB'S wife was in need of a maid-servant, so she asked 
a number of girls to come to her house that she might 
choose the one that seemed most likely to suit her. Now, 
when the farmer's man-servant heard what his mistress was 
going to do, he said to her, " I will show you how to choose 
a good one." 

f( Very well," said the farmer's wife. 

So the man-servant laid a besom across the path by which 
the girls had to come to the house, and he and his mistress 
watched them as they came near. 

The first girl who came kicked the besom aside. Then 
the farmer's man said, " She's an idle slut, and can't bend 
her back." 

The next girl who came jumped over the besom, and the 
farmer's man said, " She won't do; she'll skip her work." 

The last girl who came picked the besom up and reared it 
up in a corner out of the way. Then the farmer's man said, 
" That's the girl for me ; she'll be careful, industrious, and 

So the third girl was chosen. 

* From North Derbyshire. Compare Grimm's " Brides on their Trial," No. 



A GIRL called Ann Brown who had been very ill fell into a 
trance, and it was believed that she was dead. When her 
body had been laid out for ten hours her mother went into 
the room where she lay to kiss her, and thought that she felt 
her daughter's breath warm upon her cheek. Then she 
fetched the clergyman, and he took a small piece of looking- 
glass and held it over her mouth to see whether it was 
steamed by her breath. In this way he found that the girl 
lived. So he called all the family into the room and told 
them to stand round the bed. He sat at the head of the bed 
and took one of the girl's hands into his own, and after a 
while she opened her eyes, and gave three groans. 

Then the clergyman said to her, " Now tell us where you 
have been/' 

So after a while the girl opened her eyes and said, " I 
have been all the way to heaven, and the first to meet me 
was the Devil, who held in his hand a black book, and the 
letters in it were written in crimson. The Devil asked me 
to write my name in the book, and follow him. But I said 
' Get thee hence, Satan/ and went further on my way. 
Next I saw an angel dressed in pure white, who took my 
hand, and led me on a path as soft as down and as white as 
snow, until we came to the gate of heaven. And over the 
gate was written ' Behold the Lamb.' As we came near 
to the gate it flew open, and the Lord came out and took 
me in. Then the Lord led me to a place which was full of 
girls like myself, and after that he took me into another 
place which was full of soldiers that had spears and bayonets, 
and the bayonets had seals on them. After this another 
angel came and took me away from the Lord and led me 
into another place, which was full of infants singing. I saw 
the throne of Grod, which was all bright and shining, but 

* From Eckington, in Derbyshire. 


they would not let me see God himself. After I had seen 
the throne the Lord came to me again, and took my hand 
and said, ' It is God's wish that you go back to the earth 
for a little while longer/ Then I said to the Lord, c Let 
me stay here. 5 But the Lord answered, ( You have served 
me faithfully from a child, and it is my desire that you go 
back to the world/ " 


ONCE upon a time there was a king who had a very beauti- 
ful daughter. Many princes wished to marry her, but the 
king said she should marry the one who could tell him an 
endless tale, and those lovers that could not tell an endless 
tale should be beheaded. Many young men came, and tried 
to tell such a story, but they could not tell it, and were 
beheaded. But one day a poor man who had heard of what 
the king had said came to the court and said he would try 
his luck. The king agreed, and the poor man began his 
tale in this way : " There was once a man who built a barn 
that covered many acres, and that reached almost to the 
sky. He left just one little hole in the top, through which 
there was only room for one locust to creep in at a time, and 
then he filled the barn full of corn to the very top. When 
he had filled the barn there came a locust through the hole 
in the top and fetched one grain of corn, and then another 
locust came and fetched another grain of corn." And so 
the poor man went on saying a Then another locust came 
and fetched another grain of corn " for a long time, so that 
in the end the king grew very weary, and said the tale 
was endless, and told the poor man he might marry his 

* From Nottinghamshire. 



ONCE upon a time a dirty fairy stole a little girl and took 
her to a hill in which she lived a long way off. When the 
little girl had been there some time the dirty fairy went out 
one day, leaving the little girl at her house in the hill, and 
telling her that she must put many thousands of pins straight 
upon a paper before she came back. 

Then the little girl began to cry because she saw that she 
could not put the pins straight before the dirty fairy came 
back. Whilst she was crying a clean fairy came into the 
house in the hill with a wand in her hand, and said, " Why 
do you cry ? " 

The little girl said, " Fve all these pins to put straight 
before the dirty fairy comes back, and I can't do it." 

" Don't cry," said the clean fairy, " and I will put them 
straight for you." 

Then the clean fairy passed her wand across them, and 
they became straight in a moment. 

So the little girl waited until the dirty fairy came back. 

When the dirty fairy came back, and found that the pins 
were all put straight she said "Well, never mind, I'll set 
you a job to-morrow that you can't get done." 

So the next day she gave the little girl twice as many 
needles as she had given her pins to put straight on the 
paper. And then when the dirty fairy had gone the little 
girl cried and the clean fairy came as before, and put the 
needles straight with her wand. And as soon as the dirty 
fairy had come back she said to the little girl, " Let me see 
the needles," and she saw that they were all in their places. 
When the dirty fairy saw that, she said, " I'll set you a job 
that I know you can't get done." 

So the next day the dirty fairy brought a great paper full 
of beads of many kinds, and told her to thread them in a 
certain way that was very hard to do. But the clean fairy 

* From Nottinghamshire. Compare Grimm's Tales, 13, 14, 55. 


came as before and threaded all the beads by waving her 
wand across them.* 


THERE was once a blacksmith who had neither fire nor iron 
for his forge, and because things did not go according to his 

He ripped and he tore 

And he cursed and he swore. 

One day as he was grumbling about his want of work, a 
man, who was dressed in black, came to see him, and said to 
him, "What dost thou want ? " 

The blacksmith answered, " I want nought but iron and 
stuff for my fire." 

The man in black said, " If thou wilt sell thyself to me 
thou shalt want nought for seven years/' 

So the blacksmith agreed to sell himself, and when he got 
back to his forge he found there was as much coal and iron 
there as he wanted, so that he had plenty of work and plenty 
of money for seven years. But when the seven years were 
ended he was down-hearted, for then the devil came for him, 
and made a great hole in his garden and put a bridge over 
the hole. Then he said to the blacksmith, u Step on this 
ring," meaning on the bridge, for he wanted the blacksmith 
to fall into the hole and break his neck. But the blacksmith 
defied the devil, and said, " I won't, take all thy coal and iron 
back to hell with thee." So the devil went and left the man 
as poor as he found him. 

When the blacksmith got back to his forge he found it 
was empty, but he vowed that he would go without fire, iron, 
or coal before he would have ought to do with the devil 

* The story does not end here, but my informant has forgotten the rest, 
f From Calver, in Derbyshire. 




THERE was cnce a man who used to steal a fat sheep every 
Christmas. One Christmas he stole the parson's sheep,, and 
his son, a lad about twelve years old, went about the village 


My father's stolen the parson's sheep, 
And a merry Christmas we shall keep, 
We shall have both pudding and meat, 
But you moant say nought about it. 

Now it happened one day that the parson himself heard 
the boy singing these words, so he said, " My lad, you sing 
very well ; will you come to church next Sunday evening 
and sing it there ? " 

" I've no clothes to go in/' said the boy. But the parson 
said, " If you will come to church as I ask you, I will buy 
you clothes to go in." So the boy went to church the next 
Sunday evening, dressed in the new clothes that the parson 
had given him. 

When the service was over the parson said to the people, 
" Stay, my brethren, I want you to hear what this boy has 
to sing, it's gospel truth that he'll tell you," for he was 
hoping that the boy would confess before all the people that 
his father had stolen the sheep. But the boy got up and 

As I was in the field one day 

I saw the parson kiss a may ;f 

He gave me a shilling not to tell, 

And these new clothes do fit me well. 


THERE was once a woman who had two daughters, and sLe 
gave each of them a beautiful glass ball, of which they were 
very fond. 

* From Calver, in Derbyshire. f Maid. O. N. mar, ace. mcy. 

J From Norton, in Derbyshire. A story which benrs a considerable resem- 
blance to this is given in Henderson's folk-Lore, 1879, p. 349. 


As they were playing together one day one of the girls 
tossed her ball over the wall into the next garden. Now the 
house which stood in this garden belonged to a fox a most 
queer and unsociable fox who would not talk to his 

The girl that had tossed her ball over the wall was very 
much afraid of this fox, but she was very fond of the glass 
ball, so she said to herself, (c I must not lose my ball without 
first trying to get it back." 

So she bravely walked up to the fox's house, but she 
knocked at the door rather timidly. The fox opened the 
door himself, and she told him how she had lost her glass 
ball in his garden, and asked him if she might fetch it out. 

" You can have your ball," said the fox, " if you will come 
and be my housekeeper for a year, but you shall not have it 
if you won't." 

As there was no other way of getting the ball back the 
girl agreed to live in the fox's house for a year, and she was 
very comfortable and happy there; but she saw very little of 
the fox, because he went out early every morning and came 
back late at night. 

Now before the fox went out as usual one morning he 
called the girl to him and said to her, " I am going away for 
a little time. While I am away there are five things which 
you must not do : you must not wash up the dishes, or sweep 
the floor, or dust the chairs, or look into the cupboard, and 
you must not look under my bed." 

The girl promised that she would not, and away went the 
fox. But as soon as the fox had gone she began to wonder 
why he had forbidden her in this way, and she said to herself, 
" I will see what will happen if I don't do as he tells me." 

So first of all she washed up the dishes, and as soon as she 
had done that a great bag full of copper fell down before 

" Very good," said the girl. 

Next she swept the floor, and as soon as she had done that, 
down fell a bag full of silver. 



" Better still," said the girl. 

'Next slie dusted the chairs, when down fell a bag full of 

" That's just what 1 want," said the girl. 

Next she looked into the cupboard, and there was her 
glass ball ! 

" Oh, you don't know how glad I am," she said, and 
clapped her hands. 

Last of all she went up stairs and looked under the bed, 
and there was the fox ! ! 

She was almost frightened to death, and she ran down- 
stairs, through the garden, and up the town street, and came 
to a lane, and at the top of the lane she met a horse, and 
she said to the horse 

" Horse of mine, horse of mine,* 

If you meet a man of mine, 
don't say that I've passed by." 

And the horse said, ' ' I will not." 

A little further on she met a cow, and said 
" Cow of mine, cow of mine, 
If you meet a man of mine, 
don't say that I've passed by." 

And the cow said, " I will not." 

A little further on she met a mule, and said 
" Mule of mine, mule of mine, 
If you meet a man of mine, 
don't say that Fve passed by." 

And the mule said, " I will not." 

A little further on she met a dog, and said 
" Dog of mine, dog of mine, 

If you meet a man of mine, 
don't say that I've passed by." 

And the dog said, " I will not." 

* My informant said, <; horse of mine, horse of thine.' 1 ' and so on throughout. 


A little further on she met a cat, and said 
<e Cat of mine, cat of mine, 

If you meet a man of mine, 
don't say that IVe passed by." 

And the cat said, " I will not." 

Last of all she met an owl, and said 
" Owl of mine, owl of mine, 

If you meet a man of mine, 
don't say that I've passed by." 

And the owl said, " I will not." 

But the fox had followed the girl, and he came to the 
same lane, where he met the same horse, and said to him 
( ' Horse of mine, horse of mine, 
Hast thou met a maid of mine ? " 
And the horse said, (( She's just passed by." 

Next he met the same cow, and said to her 
" Cow of mine, cow of mine, 
Hast thou met a maid of mine ? " 
And the cow said, te She's just passed by." 

A little further on he met the same mule, and said 
" Mule of mine, mule of mine, 
Hast thou met a maid of mine ? " 
And the mule said, " She's just passed by." 

A little further on he met the same dog, and said 
ff Dog of mine, dog of mine, 
Hast thou met a maid of mine ? " 
And the dog said, " She's just passed by." 

A little further on he met the same cat, and said 
" Cat of mine, cat of mine, 
Hast thou met a maid of mine ? " 
And the cat said, " She's just passed by." 

Last of all he met the owl, and said 
" Owl of mine, owl of mine, 
Hast thou met a maid of mine ? " 
And the owl said, " She's just passed by." 


" Which way did she go ? " said the fox. The owl 
answered, <e You must go over that gate, and across that 
field, and behind the wood you will find her." 

Away ran the fox, over the gate and across the field, and 
into the wood, but neither the fox, the girl, or the glass ball 
have ever been heard of since. 


AN Irish parson was walking in Derbyshire one day when 
a heavy storm came on, and he had to take shelter under a 
tree. Two young gentlemen and two young ladies were also 
taking shelter under this tree. The parson saw that they 
all looked very sad, and he asked them what made them 
look so miserable. They said, <c We are all on our way to 
church to be married, but the storm has hindered us, and we 
are afraid it is now too late." 

" If that is all," said the parson, " I can marry you." 
They gladly agreed, so the parson took his prayer-book 
out of his pocket and married them at once. After he had 
said his marriage service he repeated these lines over each 
couple : 

Under a tree in stormy weather 

I married this man and maid together ; 

Let him alone who rules the thunder 

Put this man and maid asunder 


A PAESON was once walking on the moors when he met a 
boy who was getting heather to make besoms. The parson 
said, " Come, my boy, can you tell me what o'clock it is ? " 

* From North Derbyshire. I have supplied the title of the story. Halliwcll 
gives " hedge marriage " as Northern English for " a seci-et, clandestine mar- 
riage." f From Calver, in Derbyshire. 


The boy said, " I can't." 

" Well/' said the parson, " do you think it's twelve ? " 

f ' It can't be no more/' said the boy. 

" Well," said the parson,, " do you think it's one o'clock." 

" It can't be no less," said the boy. 

" You're a queer lad," said the parson, "can you read ? " 

" No/' said the boy. 

t( Well," said the parson, " how do you get your living ? " 

" Way," said the boy, " we mak besoms,* and sell 'em ; 
and how dost thou get thy living ? " 

" Why," said the parson, " I'm a parson." 

" Way," said the boy. " Thou gets thy living by saying 
thy prayers, and I get mine by making besoms. Every 
man to his trade." 


A NUMBER of pynotsj fought in a crabtree so fiercely that 
their beaks struck fire and set the tree ablaze. Then roasted 
crabs fell to the ground, which children picked up and ate. 


A METHODIST minister once lost his way on the moors. So 
he asked for a night's lodging at an old house that he 
passed. The people in the house told him that he might 
stay, but they said that the house was haunted by spirits, 
and he might find trouble in the night. 

The minister sat downstairs awhile, and then went to bed 
without his supper. He had not been long in bed before he 
heard a noise in the house like pots rattling. And he heard 

* Pronounced bazcoms. f From Norton, in Derbyshire. 

J Magpies. From Calvcr, in Derbyshire. 


the footsteps of somebody walking towards the stairs, and 
a voice calling, " Armaleg, come to thy supper/' 

When the hungry minister heard the word " supper " he 
got out of bed and went downstairs, and there he found a 
great supper laid out on the table, and many beautiful men 
and women sitting round it. So he took his place amongst 
them and said, " I always say grace before meat." So he 
shut his eyes, and amongst the words of the grace that he 
said were these : " devils, fear and fly." And then when he 
opened his eyes the company, the table, and the supper had 
all gone. 


ONE night a man came to a toll-bar with a wiggin stick in 
his hand, and wanted to go through. But the old woman 
who kept the gate would not open it, so he struck the gate 
with the wiggin stick. Thereupon it immediately flew open 
and let him go through, as well as some others who were 
waiting behind. When the old woman saw this she rushed 
out of the house, and pointing her hand at the man with 
the wiggin stick said, " Away wi' thee, thou old devil, wi' 
thy witch wiggin ! " 


AT Holmesfield, in Derbyshire, there were two brothers 
who lived together, but could not agree. As they were 
quarrelling one day in the housef the younger brother heard 
sounds of music in another room. He went into the room 

* From Calver, in Derbyshire. The wiggin, rowan, or mountain ash is well 
known as a reputed protection against witchcraft. 

f Cartledge Hall, a little to the south of the village of Holmesfield. This 
house, which is now occupied as a farmhouse, contains some fine oak carving and 
pargetted ceilings It stands opposite to another old house, 


from which the sounds came, but he could see nothing, 
though he could still hear the music. Bat a voice in the 
room spoke to him and said,, " Thy duty is to leave this place 
and build a house elsewhere." The voice was the voice of a 
fairy, so he took the advice which he heard and built a house 
opposite to his elder brother's house, and spoilt his elder 


AT Newmarket, near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, there 
once lived a witch who was a great trouble to the farmers in 
the neighbourhood. They bore it for a long time, until one 
of them made up his mind to stand it no longer. So he went 
to the wise man and asked him what he was to do to get rid 
of her. 

The wise man said, "Turn all your horses out of the farm- 
yard, and drive them to the pond. And when they are 
drinking throw a stone into the water, and take notice of the 
horse which is the first to lift up its head. You must mount 
on his back, and in the night you must call at the hut where 
the witch lives and ask her to get up behind you and ride. 
But you must take a dagger with you, and keep it sticking 
out, so that when the witch leaps upon the horse she may 
cut her arm." 

So the farmer did as the wise man had told him, and took 
all his horses to the pond. Now it happened that the first 
horse to lift up its head when the farmer threw a stone into 
the water was a blind one called Byard.f So the farmer 
leaped on Byard's back, and the same night he rode straight 
to the hut where the witch dwelt, and knocked at her door. 

* From Nottinghamshire. Compare the next tale, and " The Witch and the 
Ploughman," post, p. 44. And see Choice Notes from Notes and Queries, 1859, 
p. 131. 

f The word is pronounced Byard, and not Bayard. I am told that white 
horses are more frequently blind than those of any other colour. 


"Mother," said the farmer, " I have come to take thee for 
a ride, so get up behind me" 

So the witch, whose finger nails were very sharp and long, 
tried to leap up behind the farmer. In doing so she tried to 
catch hold of Byard with her finger nails, but she fell back 
twice, and each time that she fell back Byard leaped seven 
yards forward. At the third leap the witch clung fast to 
Byard behind, but she grazed her arm against the dagger 
which the farmer wore by his side. As soon as her arm 
began to bleed she lost all her power as a witcn, and the 
country was no more troubled with her. 

Byard's footprints are still to be seen in the place where 
he leaped three times. Whoever farms the land where they 
are is told to keep them clean and never to plough them up. 
And so they are carefully preserved to this day.* 


NEAR " Byard's Leap " \ in Lincolnshire is a place called the 
Devil's Ditch, which was made in this manner a very long 
time ago. There was a man who wanted to make a road, 
and whilst he was considering what to do, one came to him 
and said, <e Take thy horse and ride quickly from the place 
where thou wouldest have the road begin to the place where 
thou wouldest have it end. But beware that thou dost not 

* This keeping clean of Byard's footprints, and also his white colour, may 
remind the reader of the custom known as the "Scouring of the White Horse," 
which is, or until lately was, kept up at Uffington, in Berkshire. It is also 
interesting to notice that the colossal figure carved on the chalk of the hill at 
Uffington represents a horse in the act of galloping. Another account of "Byard's 
Leap -'' states that if anyone fills the footprints up they are always empty next 
morning, that the horse was black, and that the footprints are kept clean by one 
particular person. See the next tale. A field on the hill-top at Alice Head in 
Ashover, Derbyshire, is known as White Horse Field. 

f From Nottinghamshire. 

J See the preceding tale. 


turn round or look back." So one night the man took his 
horse and rode quickly over the ground where he wished the 
road to be, and as he went on the road was made behind 
him. But just before he reached the end he turned round 
and looked back. Now in the place where he turned round 
is a ditch called the Devil's Ditch, which can never be filled 
up, for as often as they try to fill it during the day so often 
is it dug out again during the night,* 


THERE was once a poor husband that was ruled by his wife. 
One day she tormented him so much that he made up his 
mind to leave her and go into another country. So he set 
out on his way, and he had not gone far before he came to a 
farmhouse which stood by the road side. Just as he was 
passing the door a cock crowed, and he thought the bird 
said, " Women are masters here ! }> He went a few miles 
further, and came to another farmhouse. As he went by a 
cock crowed again, and he thought the bird said, " Aye and 
everywhere ! " Then said the husband, " I will go back and 
live with my wife, for now I am certain that women are the 
rulers of men." 

* According to Leo the Old English die " certainly means agger, but not in the 
sense of an isolated heap or an abrupt conical elevation like Jtldiv ; it is rather a 
continuous, protecting dam." This story is valuable as giving a satisfactory ex- 
planation of such place-names as Grim's Dyke (Grimes die), for it is evident that 
Grim represents the Titan, giant, or divine being who in the popular belief made 
the road and the ditch. The prehistoric rosd, with its raised banks, or the 
ancient mound, was believed to be the work of supernatural beings, not malignant 
spirits, but kindly, who became the helpers of man on the sole condition that 
their work should be done in secret. We may compare the Old English cnta 
die, and cnta lildw, a dike and a mound made by the giants. 

f From Norton, in Derbyshire. 



A CERTAIN man and his wife had an only child and she was a 
girl. This girl was beloved by her father, but hated by her 
mother. When the girl was about eight years old her father 
died, and then the mother thought that she would revenge 
herself upon the girl. So she made her do all the hard work 
in the house, and gave her many cruel tasks. 

One day the mother sent the child to fetch something 
which lay beyond three fields that were bewitched. When the 
child drew near to the first field she saw that it was covered 
with fire, and she stood still at the edge of the field and dare 
not cross over it. As she stood there trembling with fear 
and weeping, a beautiful fairy appeared to her and said, 
' ' Fear not, for I will help thee." 

Now the fairy carried a wand in her hand, which she 
waved across the field of fire, so that it ceased to burn, and 
the child went over. But after she had gone a little further 
on her way she came to a field which was covered wifch water, 
and could not get across. Then the beautiful fairy came 
near to her again as she wept, and waved her wand over the 
water, which rolled back on either side, so that she walked 
straight through the midst. So she went on her way again 
until she came to a house with a golden gate, which she 
could not open or get through. Then, as before, the fairy 
came with her wand and opened the gate. And when she 
had opened the gate, she said to the child, "Wilt thou 
leave thy cruel mother and come and live with me ? " And 
the child answered : " Yea, I will live with you, for you are 
so good and beautiful." So she left her cruel mother and 
went to live with the good fairy in the house with the golden 

* From Eckington, in Derbyshire. 



ONCE upon a time there were two sisters, one called Orange 
and the other Lemon. Their mother loved Lemon much 
more than Orange, and made Orange do all the hard work 
in the house, and fetch water from the well every day. One 
day Orange went to the well as usual, taking her pitcher with 
her, and as she was stooping down to fill it with water the 
pitcher fell out of her hand into the well and was broken. 
Then Orange was very grieved and dared not go home ; so 
she sat down on the grass and cried. After she had cried 
awhile she looked up from the ground and saw a beautiful 
fairy standing near her. And the fairy said, "Why dost 
thou cry, little Orange ? " 

Orange said, "Because I have broken our pitcher, and 
mother will beat me." 

" Dry up thy tears," said the fairy, ' ' and see, I live in the 
well and know all about you, and I will help you, because 
thou art such a good little girl, and so ill used." 

Then the fairy struck the ground, and the pitcher came 
back out of the well sound and whole, and just as it was 
before, except that it had arms and legs. 

" See," said the fairy, " this little pitcher shall always be 
thy friend, and now it will walk home with thee and carry 
the water itself. Go home now, tell it to nobody, and be a 
good little girl." Having said this the fairy disappeared 
down the well. 

After this Orange soon dried up her tears, and, taking 
hold of the pitcher's hand, she and the pitcher walked homo 
together. But when they got to the door of her mother's 
house the arms and legs of the pitcher were gone. Then 
Orange took the pitcher into the house, and, remembering 
what the fairy had said, told what had happened to nobody. 

The next morning Orange awoke very early, as she always 

* From Sheffield. 


did, and said to herself, " How tired I shall be before night 
comes, for there is so much work to do in the house. " So 
she got up, and when she came downstairs she found the 
pitcher, with its arms and legs on, sweeping the kitchen and 
doing all the hard work, and ever after the pitcher was her 
faithful and helpful friend. 


A YOUNG Irish girl wanted to marry a young Irishman, so she 
went to Spinkhill to pray. When she had got very near to 
the church she knelt down behind a hedge and said : " 0, 
holy mother, can I have Patrick ? " An old man, who was 
behind the hedge, heard her question and said, (f No, thou 
caii'st not." But the girl said, " Thee be quiet, little Jesus, 
and let thy mother speak." 


THERE was once a wicked king who lived in a large castle 
which stood on a high hill in a lonely wood, and he had a 
son who was as wicked as himself. The castle was a very 
long way from any other house, and nobody ever ventured 
too far into the wood for fear of being caught by the king 

* This tale, which comes from Eckington, in Derbyshire, is identical with 
Grimm's "Maid of Brakel." No. 139. In a note to the story Grimm says, " In 
Hanover it is told that as the maid was praying to God to give her some sign, a 
shepherd who had heen listening to the whole prayer hehind a hedge threw an 
old shoe over it, for which she thanked God in great delight." As Grimm's 
notes were not translated into English till 1884 it is clear that there has been no 
borrowing from him. There is a Koman Catholic church and college at Spink- 
hill, which is situated in Eckington. I heard the tale myself more than twenty 
years ago. 

f From Sheffield. 


or his son, because they were very cruel, and kept prisoners 
at the castle. One fine day a pretty maid, who had been 
wandering about the wood, lost her way ; but after a time 
she came in sight of the castle. As darkness was coming on 
she began to get frightened, and ran up to the castle to 
enquire her way home. When she got there she knocked 
at the door, which was opened by a very rough-looking 

" Can you. tell me my way home ? " said the maid. 

(C No, I can't," said the rough-looking servant ; " but I'll 
fetch my master." 

So the servant slammed the door, and went away, and 
soon after a strong, wicked-looking man came down and said 
to the maid, "You are a long way from home, and it is dark, 
so you can't go back now, but follow me, and you shall have 
a night's lodging." 

So the maid followed him, and he led her through a long, 
dark passage, which brought them to a dimly-lighted room, 
which was beautifully furnished. There were two servants 
in the room, and the wicked-looking man, who was -the 
king, told them to give the maid some supper, and then show 
her to her bedroom. So when she had eaten her supper she 
was taken into her bedroom, and left alone. 

The bedroom was very comfortable, but she began to 
think about home, and how troubled her father and mother 
would be abo'ut her. " I wonder what will become of me," 
she said to herself. " I don't like that big, rough man ; and 
, oh ! it is very lonely here." Then the tears began to fall 
from her eyes, and she sobbed and could not sleep. 

The next morning, when the maid came downstairs, she 
met the king and his son, and they asked her to take break- 
fast with them; but she refused, and said, " I want to go 
home to my father and mother, for they will be grieved 
about me." 

Then the king was angry, and would not let her go, but 
told the servants to lock her up in a room until they had 
finished breakfast. After breakfast was done the king and 



his son went into the maid's room, and she said to them, " I 
pray you let me go home." 

But the king said, " You shall not go home, for I want you 
to marry my son." 

But the maid said, " I will not marry him/' and though 
the king asked her again and again, and offered her all sorts 
of presents, she still refused. 

Then the king grew very angry, and ordered her to be 
locked up in one of the rooms of the castle until she con- 
sented, and to be fed on bread and water. And he said, 
" Unless you will marry my son you will be put to death." 

So when the maid found herself locked up alone she began 
to cry bitterly, and call for help. And as she was crying she 
heard a slight tapping at the little window of her room. On 
looking up she saw a beautiful woman standing on a large 
stone which projected out of the wall. The beautiful woman 
asked the maid why she wept. The maid said, a I am a 
prisoner in this castle, and to-morrow I am to be killed 
because I will not marry the king's son." 

But the beautiful woman said, u Weep no more, but follow 
me." Then she came through the window, opened the door, 
and led the way down a dark passage that brought them to 
the gates of the castle, which were lying open. They walked 
through the gates unseen by anyone, and the maid found 
that she was once more in the wood in which she had lost 
her way. 

Soon after the maid had gone, the king sent one of his 
servants up to the room in which she had lain, to ask her if 
she had changed her mind, and was ready to marry his son. 
But when the servant entered the room he found that she 
had gone. Then the king was very angry, and fetched his 
dog, and began to search for her in the wood. 

When they got out of the castle the maid asked the beau- 
tiful woman what her name was, and thanked her for her 
great kindness. The beautiful woman said, " I am a fairy, 
and heard thee calling for help, so I came to help thee. But 
now I must leave thee here." 


But the maid was troubled at these last words, and said, 
" I don't know which way to go. Wilt thou not show me my 
way home ? " 

Then the fairy gave her a ring, and said, " See, take this 
ring, and tie a piece of ribbon to it. Then hold it in front of 
thee, and it will lead thee home. But take care of it, for if 
thou shouldest lose it thou wilt lose thy way again, and the 
king will overtake thee." Then the fairy suddenly dis- 

When the fairy had gone the maid was very sorry, but 
she did as the fairy had told her and followed the ring, which 
floated before her in the air. 

Thus the maid walked on, the ring going before her ; but 
after a while she saw some pretty flowers growing in the 
wood, and stopped to gather them. 

Whilst she was gathering the flowers she lost the ring, and 
could not find it again. So she walked on without the ring, 
when she came to a river, and wondered how she was to get 

As she stood wondering by the river side, she heard a dog 
barking, and also the voice of a man shouting, which she 
knew to be the king's voice. Then the maid was very 
frightened, and said to herself, " The fairy told me to take 
great care of the ring, and that if I lost it I should lose my 
way, and the king would overtake me. Now I shall be taken 
back to the castle." And again she wept as though her 
heart would break. 

As she was weeping she heard the voice of one who was 
singing sweetly, and on looking round she again saw the 
same fairy who had delivered her from the castle. The fairy 
said, " Hast thou lost the ring that I gave thee ? " 

The maid said, " I stopped to gather some flowers, and 
then I lost the ring. And now I do not know which way to 
go, or how to cross the river, and the king and his dog are 
searching for me." 

Then the fairy was angry, and said, " Thou hast been 
careless, and unmindful of what I told thee. But I will 



have pity on thee and give thee another ring. Follow it, 
and it will lead thee home." Then the fairy disappeared. 

By this time the king and the dog had got close up to her, 
but the maid followed the ring, which led her straight to a 
bridge which crossed the river. Then she went over the 
bridge and found that she was close to her own home. When 
she got home she found that her father and mother had been 
greatly troubled, and wished to know everything that had 
happened. So she told them all that had happened, and 
how the fairy had saved her. 


ONE day a woodman was told by his master to cut down 
some trees that stood near a very deep river. The woodman, 
however, had lost his hatchet, so he went and borrowed one 
from a neighbour. And so he walked along the river side 
until he came to the trees which his master had told him to 
cut down. So he began to chop at the first tree, but before 
he had struck many blows the head of the hatchet flew off 
and fell into the deep water, so that the poor woodman could 
not get it out again. The woodman was very much troubled 
about this, because the hatchet was not his own, and as he 
stood fretting over his loss by the river side a little fairy 
man appeared on the top of the water, and walked up to him, 
and asked him what he was fretting about. The woodman 
said, " Fve lost my neighbour's hatchet head in this water, 
and I can't get it out." 

The fairy said, "Where did it fall in?" and the wood- 
man showed him the place. 

" Give me the shaft," said the fairy. 

So the woodman gave him the shaft, and he threw it into 
the water in the place where the head had fallen in. 

* From Sheffield. Compare the story of " Mercury and the Woodman " in 
JEsop's Fables, which has some resemblance to this. This story contained a verse 
or two. which my informant cannot remember. 


" Keep your eyes fixed on the spot where the shaft fell 
in," said the fairy, " and the hatchet will rise up out of the 
water with the head on, just as it was when you borrowed 

So the woodman did as he was told and kept his eyes 
fixed on the spot, when shortly he heard a rumbling noise 
in the water, and after the rumbling had ceased the hatchet 
appeared in the very place where the fairy had thrown the 
shaft in. Then the woodman took the hatchet out of the 
water, but on looking up to thank the little fairy he found 
that he had gone. 


ONE day as an Irishman was going through a field he 
suddenly met a bull, which first stamped and snorted and 
then ran at him. Just as the Irishman was about to mount 
a wall, the bull helped him over with his horns. The man 
was very angry when he got down on the other side, and he 
shook his fist in the bull's face and said, " I'll remember 
thee ! " The next day he had occasion to cross the same 
field, so he took a good thick stick with him. But when he 
came to the field he found only two calves there. So he 
went up to one of the calves and thrashed it unmercifully. 
When he had done beating the calf he said, "Now, thou can 
go and tell thy father; he knows all about it." 


ONCE upon a time a farmer and his wife lived at a certain village 
in Nottinghamshire, and they had a son who got married, 

* From Nottinghamshire. 

f From Nottinghamshire. Compare " Jack the Butter-milk," ante. p. 7 



and brought a beautiful young wife to his father's house. 
Now in the same village there lived an old woman who was 
said to be a witch, and the farmer and his wife used to give 
butter-milk to her. One day when the old woman came for 
her butter-milk the beautiful young wife said, " We've none 
to spare ; so you must go without it." So the old woman 
went away without her butter-milk. 

Soon afterwards the young wife began to churn, but the 
butter would not come, and she wondered why it did not. 
Whilst they were eating their dinner the farmer said, <e I 
wonder why old Sarah has not fetched her butter-milk 

" Well," said the young wife, " an old woman has been 
here this morning for butter- milk, but I told her we had 
none to spare." 

" Then you can put your churn away," said the farmer, 
" for you will churn no butter this week. But remember that 
you don't turn her away again without giving her butter- 
milk, for she has witched the cream." 


AT a farm in Lincolnshire there had once been a great 
robbery, and nobody could find out who the thief was. At 
last the farmer's wife said to her husband, " If you will send 
for the wizard * of Lincoln, he will tell you." 

So the farmer did as his wife had told him, and sent for 
the wizard, who came in the form of a blackbird. He flew 
into the crew-yard,t and so frightened the cattle there that 
a man who was threshing wheat in the barn could hardly 
keep them out. 

Then the blackbird spoke to the farmer, and said " Shall 

* In Nottinghamshire people say that wizard means " wise man," and wise 
man, like the 0. N. visinda-maftr, here means soothsayer, 
f Farmyard. 


I bring the thieves into thy house, or make their shadows 
appear on the wall ? " 

The farmer answered, " Do as thou thinkest right." 

He had hardly spoken when one of the farmer's men 
servants, who had only that very moment begun his work in 
the fields, walked into the room, and at once passed out. 

When he had gone the blackbird said, " That is one of 

Then he pointed to a shadow on the wall, and the farmer 
saw that it was the shadow of another of his servants. 

"That is the other thief," said the blackbird, and flew 

Soon after the two men were arrested, and the money 
which they had stolen was found. 


THERE was once a silly man called Nicorbore, who lived as 
servant in a gentleman's family. One day a sixpence was 
given to him. He took the coin and buried it in the garden 
under a gooseberry-bush, "for," said he to himself, " the 
sixpence will grow bigger." Another servant who had 
watched Nicorbore burying the sixpence put a shilling in its 
place. The next day when Nicorbore went to look at his 
sixpence he found it had grown into a shilling. " I think 
thou hast grown a bit," he said, " but I think thou'lt grow a 
bit bigger yet." When he went to look under the goose- 
berry-bush again he found a half-crown instead of a shilling. 
" I think thou'lt grow bigger yet," he said, and buried the 
half-crown again. The next time he found that the half- 
crown had grown into a five-shilling piece. So he buried 
the five-shilling piece under the gooseberry- bush again ; but 
the next time he went to look it had grown into a four- 

* From Norton, in Derbyshire. 


shilling piece. Nicorbore could not understand this, but he 
buried the coin as before, and soon afterwards he found it 
had grown into a shilling, then into a sixpence, and lastly 
into a threepenny piece. Then he said to the threepenny 
piece " Fll put thee in my pocket, or thou'lt grow away 
altogether." * 

37. THE OLD ONE.t 

THERE was once a parson in Derbyshire who was very good 
in visiting his flock and enquiring after their souls. When- 
ever a parishioner sent for him he always went and spoke 
words of comfort. One day an old woman sent for him and 
told him that she was very uneasy in her mind. 

When he got to the house he sat down in the kitchen and 
said : " Way, does ta go to t' sacrament ? " 

" Yea," said the woman. 

11 Way, does ta owe anybody ought ? " said the parson. 

" Not a f ardin," the woman replied. 

" Way, then, what's i' matter wi' thee ? " said the parson. 

" Way, t' Owd An' keeps coming" she said. 

"Way, t' next time he comes tell him to go to ." 

* Other tales are told about this Nicorbore. He is said to have drowned a 
litter of pigs because they had prick ears, for he thought the pigs were young 
hounds, which should have drooping ears. Another version of the tale given 
above relates that Nicorbore put the coin into a wall, and that he put it in his 
pocket when it had grown into a five-shilling piece. There was a tale told 
about " Nicorbore and Mally Bent that went agateards all night, '\ but I have been 
unable to recover any particulars. Nicorbore is said by some to have been a 
servant who lived at the Oaks in Norton, Derbyshire, but the name itself dis- 
proves this. The word Nicorbore evidently contains the O. ~E.nicor, O. IS.nyJir, 
a water goblin. The final syllable is more doubtful, but it may be Borr, who, 
according to the Edda, was the father of Odin. 

t From Dore, in Derbyshire. In this county the Devil is known as The Old 
One, The Old Lad, or Old Harry, " Harry " being, I think, the old Norse harrl 
or hcrra, lord. 



ONCE upon a time there was a poor shoemaker who could not 
earn enough to keep himself and his family. This grieved 
him very much, but one morning when he came downstairs 
he found a piece of leather which he had cut out already 
made into a pair of shoes, which were beautifully finished. 
He sold these shoes the same day, and with the money he 
bought as much leather as would make two pairs of shoes. 
The next morning he found that this leather too had been 
made into shoes, but he did not know who had done it. In 
this way his stock of shoes kept always getting bigger. He 
very much wished to know who had made the shoes, so he 
told his wife he would stay up all night and watch, and then 
he found Hob Thrust at work upon the leather. As soon as 
Hob Thrust had finished a pair of shoes the shoemaker took 
them and put them into a cupboard. Immediately after that 
Hob Thrust finished another pair, which the shoemaker also 
took up and put away. Then he made first one pair of shoes 
and then another so fast that the little shop was soon filled 
with them, and as there was no more room in the house the 
shoemaker threw the shoes out of the window as fast as Hob 
Thrust could make them. 

Hob Thrust also worked for farmers in the night. One 
morning when a farmer woke he found that the hay upon a 
rough piece of stony ground was newly mown. This had 
happened several times before, so one day he said he would 
stay up all night and watch. Then he saw it was Hob 

* From Dore, in Derbyshire, where the tale is also entitled " Hob Thurst." 
The Prompt. Pan. has " thyrce, wykked spyryte." The first part of this story 
is identical with the first part of Grimm's tale of " The Elves," No. 39. But it is 
certain that this tale about Hob Thrust was not borrowed from Grimm, because 
it has given rise to a proverbial saying in the neighbourhood of Sheffield where 
knives are made. When a man is heard to boast of the number of knives or 
other articles which he can make in a day, the rejoinder is, "Ah, tha can mak 
'em faster than Hob Thrust can throw shoes out o' t' window." In his capacity 
as the farmer's friend Hob Thrust reminds us of Thor. 


Thrust who mowed the hay; so on the following day he 
drove some iron gavlocks and harrow teeth into the ground. 
On the next night Hob Thrust came to mow the hay again, 
when his scythe struck against a gavlock.. He merely said, 
" Umph, a dock," and cut through it with his scythe. And 
when his scythe struck against a harrow tooth, he said, 
" Umph, a dock," and cut straight through it. 


ONE day a little girl took a riddle to a well to fetch some 
water, but the water ran out of the riddle as fast as she 
poured it in. Two little robinets who were sitting on a 
hedge close by watched her as they twittered their songs. 
The birds made such a noise that the girl thought they were 
laughing at her, so she said : " Silly robins, how can I carry 
water in a riddle ? " 
The robinets said : 

Stuff your riddle with moss, 
And daub it with clay, 
And carry your water 
Right away. 

But the little girl said, "I shan't, you ugly birds," and 
dipped her riddle into the well again. The water ran out of 
the riddle again, but the third time the little girl did as the 
robinets had told her, when the riddle held the water and 
the robinets were pleased. 

* From Calver, in Derbyshire. Compare the tale of " The Well of the World's 
End," printed by Mr. Jacobs in his English Fairy Talcs (David Nutt, 1890), 
p. 215. In this tale a frog, and not robins, advises a girl to stuff her sieve with 
clay. According to ancient belief the true-hearted could carry water in a sieve, 
and according to modern Indian belief the innocent can take up water in a lump, 
like a ball. Grimm's Tout. Myth., pp. 1111, 1112 



A MAN had been playing at cards with, some friends at 
Totley, in Derbyshire, and was angry because he had lost. 
And, therefore, he 'stole the cards and said he would play 
with the Devil as he went home through a wood. As soon 
as he had got well into the wood a black man, with cloven 
feet and horns on his head, came out of the bushes with a 
small table in his hands, and set it down and said: "I am 
ready to play." But the man was so afraid that he knelt 
down and called on God, when the black man disappeared. 


A FARMER who had two sons died in harvest time. And 
because the weather was fine the sons were very busy with 
their harvesting, and could not spare time to bury him. 
So one of the sons said to the other, " I'll tell thee what 
we'll do ; we'll take him down into the cellar, and lay him 
on the milk benk, and salt him." The other son agreed ; so 
they look their father's body into the cellar and salted him, 
stopping up his ear-holes and nostrils to keep the flies out. 
About three weeks afterwards it began to rain, and the sons 
thought they could spare time to bury him. So they went 
to the parson and told him that their father was dead. The 
parson was astonished to hear the news, and asked how long 
he had been dead. 

" Three weeks," said the sons. 

" Why, he'll stink," said the parson. 

* From Holmesfield, in Derbyshire. Odin was the god and inventor of dice- 
playing and gaming, and folk-tales make the Devil play at cards. Grimm's 
Tout. Myth., 150, 1007. 

f From Calver, in Derbyshire. It is still the custom in some parts of that 
county to lay a plate of salt upon the breast of a corpse previous to burial. 


" Nay," said the brothers,, " he's as sweet as a pea, for 
we've salted him." 

The parson was so taken aback at these words that he 
could not speak, and walked away. 


A CERTAIN widower had six children, but did not know how 
to manage them, or how to take care of his house. He lay 
awake all night considering what to do, but when he got 
up in the morning he found the clothes washed, the bread 
baked, and the house put in order by the fairies. 

A young woman died leaving a baby girl, but before she 
died her brother promised to take care of the child. But 
the brother did not keep his promise, so the fairies came and 
pulled the clothes off his bed. Then the brother fetched the 
child from his sister's house, and the clothes were not pulled 
off again. 

Another young woman died leaving a baby with her 
mother, and she was very fond of going from house to house 
gossiping. One night she put the baby to bed and went out 
' to see a neighbour. When she came back she found the 
child lying on the hearth dressed in its mother's clothes. 
She had locked the door, and at first she did not know who 
had done this, but afterwards she found that the fairies had 
dressed the child as a warning to the grandmother not to go 
out gossiping when the baby was put to bed. 


THERE was once a lady who had one little daughter, and this 
daughter had a beautiful golden cup. Now one day the lady 
was going out to visit her friends, and her little daughter 

* From Calver, in Derbyshire. f From, Eckington, in Derbyshire. 


asked if she might go too. Her mother said, " No, dear, I 
cannot take you now, but you can have your golden cup to 
play with until I corne back." 

When the mother had gone the little girl said to the maid, 
" Fetch me my golden cup out of the cupboard." 

The maid said, " I can't fetch it now, I am too busy." 

But the little girl kept asking for the cup again and again, 
until at last the maid grew angry, and said, " If you ask for 
it again I'll cut your head off." 

But the little girl asked for the cup once more, and there- 
upon the maid took her into the cellar, got the hatchet, and 
cut her head off. Then she got a pickaxe and a spade, and 
dug a hole, and buried the little girl under one of the stone 
flags in the cellar. 

When the mother came back in the evening she said, 
" Where's baby ? " 

The maid said, " I have let her go out for a walk." 

" Then go and seek her," said the mother. 

The maid went out, and when she came b;ick she said, " I 
have looked for her everywhere and cannot find her." 

Then the mother was deeply grieved, and she sat up all 
that night, and all the next night. On the third night as 
she sat alone and wide awake she heard the voice of her 
daughter outside the door saying, " Can I have my golden 
cup ?" The mother opened the door, and when her daughter 
had repeated the question three times she saw her spirit, but 
the spirit vanished at once, and she never saw it more. 


ONCE upon a time a weaver and his wife lived at Sutton-on- 
Trcnt in Nottinghamshire. One day the weaver went to 
Newark to sell his linen, leaving his children in the house, 
and his wife, who lay ill in bed. Now at that time there 
* From Nottinghamshire. 


lived at Sutton a witch who had some spite against the 
weaver's wife. A short time after the weaver had gone one 
of the children heard a noise as of something pattering up 
and down stairs. The child opened the door of the bottom 
stairs, and there she saw a great ugly cat, which she could 
not catch, try as she would. As she was trying to catch it 
the cat ran upstairs, sprang upon the bed where the poor 
woman lay, and clawed her. But the woman roused herself 
and knocked the cat down. Now when the weaver came 
back from Newark the children told him about the cat. So 
he watched all night in an old lumber-room, for the cat came 
in and went out through a broken pane in the window. 

One night the cat came in as the weaver was sitting by 
the fire, so he picked up a fork and struck her on the cheek. 
He then threw her out of doors, believing that she was dead. 
But in the morning, when he went to look for the cat's 
body, he could not find it. But ever after that the witch 
had her face tied up, and she had no more power to do harm 
to the weaver or to his family. 


THERE was once a farmer who lived in Nottinghamshire and 
kept many servants in his house. Near to his house there 
lived a witch, and the farmer often told his servants that if 
she asked them to give her anything they should never 
refuse. One day the farmer hired a ploughman, and said to 
him, " If the old witch up yonder ask thee for ought thou 
must give it." 

" I shall give the old lass nought," said the ploughman. 

One day when he met the witch she asked him to give her 
something, and he would not. So the next day, when he 
began to plough, his horses would not go, but at last he 
coaxed her, and persuaded her to let them go. 

* From Nottinghamshire. Compare " Byard's Leap," ante, p. 25. 


Now this old witcli lived by herself in a lonely cabin, and 
one day the ploughman said he would go and see her. So 
he knocked at the door of the cabin, and said, " Mother, I've 
come to take thee for a ride/' 

The witch said, " Wait till I have suckled my cubs and 
buckled my shoes, and then I will be with thee." So she 
suckled her cubs and buckled her shoes and followed him 
out. But as soon as the ploughman had mounted the horse 
she turned herself into a hare, and sprang with her claws 
upon the horse's back. The horse was very frightened, and 
jumped many feet, but the ploughman killed the hare on the 


ONE day, as a carter was leading his horses along the high 
road, an old woman came up to him and said, te Please give 
me a pipe of tobacco." But the carter said, " Nay, thou 
must buy thy tobacco, like me." So the old woman left him. 
But after this the horses had not gone many yards before 
they stood quite still, and could not move an inch. So the 
carter laid him down by the road side and wondered what he 
was to do next. As he lay thinking, a stranger came by 
and said, "What's the matter; why doesn't thou get on?" 
The carter said, "My horses are bewitched. An hour ago 
an old woman passed me on the road, and asked me for a 
pipe of tobacco, and I would not give it her. So she has 
bewitched them." The stranger said, " You ought to have 
given her what she asked for, and you were very foolish 
to refuse. But do as I tell thee. Go to the old woman's 
cottage, and either beg, borrow, or steal something. And when 
she comes near thee scratch her arm with a needle, and fetch 

So the carter did as the stranger told him, and he called 

* From Nottinghamshire. 


at a house on the road and borrowed a stocking-needle. 
When he got to the old woman's cottage he said to her, 
" I've come to buy a penn'orth o' thread, mother." So the 
old woman fetched him the thread, and as she was giving it 
to him he took the stocking-needle and scratched her arm 
from the elbow to the wrist. When he had done this he 
paid for the thread, and took the stocking-needle back to 
the woman who had lent it him. Then he ran after his 
horses, and found that they had started at the very moment 
when he drew blood from the old woman's arm. 


THERE was once a gentleman who used to ride on horseback 
every day. One day he had occasion to call at a house by 
the road side, where a woman and her little boy lived. 
Whilst he was talking to the woman, he saw that she was 
making the oven hot, and the little boy said to him, " Mother's 
holing the oven to put me in." But the gentleman thought that 
the boy was only joking, so he took no heed, and rode away. 
But he had not gone far before a magpie crossed his path, 
and kept flying in front of his horse, and would not go away. 
So at last he thought that the magpie wanted him to turn 
back. So he rode straight back to the house, and when he 
got there he found that the woman had gone, and that the 
poor little boy was roasting in the oven. 


THERE was once an old woman who lived in the ruins of a 
castle that stood in the midst of a great forest. This old 
woman used to kidnap girls to help her in many ways, and 

* From Nottinghamshire. t From North Derbyshire. 


she taught them witchcraft. These girls feared the old 
woman, but one of them who was very conceited and vain 
said to the other girls that she could do anything that the 
old woman might set her to do, no matter how hard it was. 
So the other girls told the old woman what the vain girl had 

"Oh, we'll see about that," said the old woman. So she 
called the vain girl to her and said, "You must make twenty- 
one shirts to-day, and be clammed if you can't finish them." 
Then the old woman went out. 

The girl knew that she could not make so many shirts in 
one day, so she sat crying in the house. But she had not 
been crying long before she heard a noise in the room, and 
turning round, she saw a sweet-faced lady, who said, " Why 
dost thou cry ? " 

" Because I have to make twenty-one shirts to-day," said 
the girl, ce and I know I can't get them done, and I shall be 
clammed if I can't." 

"We will have them done," said the sweet- faced lady, 
" before the day is over." So she helped the girl, and the 
shirts were done before the old woman came back. 

So the other girls told the old woman what the vain girl 
had done. "No matter," said the old woman. "I'll set her 
a job to do that I know she can't get done." So she called 
the vain girl to her again, and said, "You must dress * five 
feather-beds to-day, and be clammed if you can't get them 

As the girl sat crying the sweet-faced lady appeared to 
her again, and said, " Don't cry. I am a fairy, and will 
always be near thee." So the beds were dressed that day 
by the kind lady's help. 

After this the old woman gave the girl harder and harder 
tasks every day, but she never failed to get them done. 
Then the old woman, and the other girls, asked her how she 

* The process consists in taking the feathers out of the beds, putting them 
into a sieve, and cleaning them with the fingers. 


managed to get so much work done, but the sweet-faced lady 
told her not to make it known, because she was going to 
help her to get away from the castle to her own home. So 
the girl would not tell, and in the course of time the kind 
lady helped her to escape to her own home, where she was 
received as one from the dead. 


ONE Sunday morning a farmer's wife had gone to church 
with her husband and family, leaving one of her sons at home 
to take care of the house and to keep his eye on a sheep's 
head and dumplings, which were to be boiled in a pot. When 
the mother was gone the water began to boil in the pot, and 
the sheep's head began to swim round after the dumplings, 
until at last the dumplings flew out of the pot. The boy was 
much frightened when he saw this. So he left the house 
with the dumplings lying on the floor and went to the church. 
Looking in at the door he made signs to his mother to come 
out. But she took no heed of his beckoning, and answered 
only by nods and winks. At last the boy grew angry, and 
shouted loudly into the church, " Thou can'st nod, and thou 
canst wink, but t' sheep's head's leathered all t' dumplings 
out o' t' pot." So the mother ran home with her son, and 
found that it was only the boiling water which had made the 
sheep's head swim after the dumplings in the pot. 


ONCE upon a time there was a father who had two daughters. 
Calling them to him one day he said to them, " What is the 
sweetest thing in the world ? " 

* From Norton, Derbyshire. f From the East Riding. 


" Sugar/' said the elder daughter. 

" Salt," said the younger. 

The father was angry at this last answer. But his daughter 
stuck to it, and so her father said to her, " I won't keep a 
daughter in my house who believes that salt is the sweetest 
thing in the world. You must leave me and seek another 

So the younger daughter left her father's house and 
wandered here and there, suffering much hunger and cold, 
until at last she was befriended by the fairies. As she walked 
through a wood one day listening to the songs of the birds a 
prince came hunting for deer, and when he saw her he fell 
in love with her at once. She agreed to marry him, and a 
great banquet was prepared at the prince's house. To this 
banquet the bride's father was bidden; but he did not 
know that the bride was his own daughter. 

Now, at the wish of the bride, all the dishes were pre- 
pared without salt. So when the guests began to eat they 
found that the food was tasteless. At last one of them said, 
" There is no salt in the meat." And then all the guests 
said, " There is no salt in the meat ! " And the bride's 
father spoke the loudest of all. t( Truly, salt is the sweetest- 
thing in the world," he said ; " though, for saying so, I sent 
my own daughter away from my house, and shall never see 
her face again." Then the bride made herself known to her 
father, and fell on his neck and kissed him. 


THERE was once a silly man who broke stones by the road 
side, and he was so silly that he used to talk to the stones as 
he broke them. 

One day he struck hard at a big stone, but the hammer 
would not break it. 

* From Norton, Derbyshire. 


" Now, lad," said the silly man, catching Ms breath, and 
swinging the hammer back over his shoulder, " Fll bet thee 
a shilling I do break thee." 

So he struck the stone with a tremendous whack, but it 
was not broken a bit. 

" Now, then, ladj" said the silly man, pulling his coat off, 
" Til bet thee a sovereign I do break thee, now then." 

So he struck the stone with another tremendous whack, 
but it was not broken a bit. 

" Way, lad," said the silly man, pulling both his coat and 
waistcoat off, and hitching his breeches up with both hands, 
"I will break thee yet. I'll get f Smiler'* to thee." (He 
called his big hammer " Smiler.") 

So he lifted " Smiler " up, and brought him down on the 
stone with all his might. But the stone was not broken a 

' ' Way, lad," said the silly man, " If I can't break thee I 
can throw thee o'er t' wall." 

So he threw the stone over the wall into a field. 


ONCE npon a time there was a lead miner in Derbyshire who 
had three sons, and he was very poor. One day the eldest 
son said he would go and seek his fortune, so he packed up 
his kit, and took something to eat with him and set off. 
After he had walked a long way he came to a wood, and 
being very tired he sat down upon a large stone by the way- 
side, and began to eat the bread and cheese that he had 

* The " silly man " is Thor, and the hammer " Smiler " is the hammer 
Mjolnir. Compare the tales in the Edda about Thor and his hammer, especially 
that in which Thor tries to break the head of the giant Outgarth-loki, and fails. 
The i in " Smiler " is long. 

f From Wensley, in Derbyshire. Communicated by R F. Drury, Esq., of 


brought with him. Whilst he was eating he thought he 
heard a voice. So he looked about him and saw a little red 
man coming out of the wood covered with hair, and about 
the height of nine penn'orth of copper. He came close up 
to the eldest son, and asked for something to eat. But 
instead of giving him food the eldest son told him to be off, 
and kicked his foot out at the little man and hurt him, so 
that he went limping back into the wood. 

Then the eldest son went on his way, and after a long 
time came home again as poor as he had left. 

After the eldest son had returned, the second son said that 
he would go out and seek his fortune. When he came to 
the wood he sat down to rest and eat, and whilst he was 
eating the little red hairy man came out and begged for 
some food. But the second son went on eating until he had 
done, and threw the little man the crumbs and bits that were 
left. Then the little man told the second son to go and try 
his luck in a mine that he would find in the middle of the 

So the second son went to look for the mine, and when he 
had found it he said to himself, " Why, it's only an old worn- 
out mine, and I'm not going to waste my time over that." 
So he set off on his way, and after a long time came home 
again as poor as he had left. 

Now by this time Jack, the youngest son, had grown up, 
and when the second son came home he said to his father, 
"I will go now and seek my fortune." So when he was 
ready he left home in the same way that his brothers had 
done. And when he came to the wood and saw the stone on 
the way side, he sat down on it, and pulled out his bread 
and cheese and began to eat, and in a few minutes he heard 
somebody say, " Jack, Jack." So he looked about him and 
saw the same little red hairy man that his brothers had seen. 
The little man said he was hungry, and asked Jack to give 
him some of his bread and cheese, and Jack said he would 
and welcome. So he cut him a good lump, and told him he 
could have more if he wanted. Then the little man came 

E 2 


close up to Jack and told him that he only wanted to try him 
to see what sort he was. 

" And now," said the little man, " I will help thee to get 
thy fortune, but thou must do as I tell thee." 

So then he told Jack to go and find the old mine in the 
middle of the wood. 

So Jack went, and when he got to the mine he found the 
little man had got there before him. 

The opening of the mine was inside an old hut, and over 
the pit, in the middle of the floor, was a windlass. So the 
little man told Jack to get into the bucket, and began to let 
him down. So Jack went down, and down, and down, till at 
last he came to the bottom, when he got out and found 
himself in a beautiful country. 

Whilst he was looking round about him the little man 
stood by him and gave him a sword and armour, and told 
him to go and set free a princess who was imprisoned in a 
copper castle in that country. And then the little man threw 
a small copper ball on the ground, and it rolled away, and 
Jack followed it until it came to a castle made of copper, and 
flew against the door. Then a giant came out of the castle, 
and Jack fought with him and killed him, and set the 
princess free, and she went back to her own home. 

When Jack came back the little man told him that he must 
go to a silver castle and set another princess free. So the 
little man threw down a silver ball, and Jack followed it till it 
came to a splendid silver castle, and struck against the door 
so loudly that the giant who lived there came out to see what 
it was. And then Jack fought with him and killed him, and 
set the princess free. 

Now some time after Jack had set free the princess in the 
silver castle, the little man said that he must now try to set 
another princess free who lived in a golden castle. So Jack 
said he would, and the little man threw down a golden ball, 
and it began to roll away, and Jack followed it until it came 
in sight of a magnificent gold castle, and then it went faster 
and faster until it struck the castle door, and made the giant 


who lived there come out to see what was the matter. Then 
Jack and the giant fought, and the giant nearly killed Jack, 
but at last Jack killed the giant, and then went into the castle 
and found a beautiful lady there. Jack fell in love with her, 
and brought her to the little man, and he married them, and 
helped Jack to get as much gold from the gold castle as he 
wanted. And then he helped Jack and his wife up the mine, 
and they went to Jack's home. 

Jack built a fine house for himself and another for his 
father and mother. But his two brothers were envious, and 
went off to the mine to see if they could not get some gold as 
well as Jack. And when they got into the hut they quarrelled 
as to who should go down first, and as they were struggling 
to get into the bucket the rope broke, and they both fell to 
the bottom of the pit. As they did not come back Jack and 
his father went to seek them. And when they got to the 
mine they saw that the sides of the pit had given way, and 
blocked it up. And the hut had fallen down, and the place 
was covered up for ever. 


IN South Yorkshire when a story-teller has finished his tale 
he says : 

My tale's ended, 

T' door sneck's bended ; 

I went into t' garden 

To get a bit o' thyme ; 

I've telled my tale, 

Thee tell thine. 



CHANGE in the moon is said to affect the temper. 
When sauce, jam, or other liquid compounds 
are stirred, they must be stirred in the direction 
in which the sun goes round. 
On Easter Sunday people at Castleton, in Derbyshire, used 
to climb the hill on which the castle is built, at six o'clock in 
the morning, to see the sun rise. On this day the sun is said 
to dance for joy at his rising.* 

The rainbow denotes that God will not destroy the world 
by water, but by fire and brimstone. The rainbow is said to 
have as many colours as Joseph's coat. 

It is unlucky to bring eggs into the house after sunset. 
If you wish when you see a star shoot your wish will be 
granted ; but you must do this very quickly. 

Farmers should sow their seed at the time of the new 

If the moon changes on Saturday or Sunday the weather 
will be stormy during the following month. 

A detached piece of rock or stone called " the Cock- 

* On the Wednesday before Easter Sunday a Derbyshire man said, " I think 
the sun will hardly be able to contain himself till Sunday." In Derbyshire they 
say that the sun spins round when he sets on Easter Sunday, and people go out 
to see this spinning. 


crowing Stone," or " Stump John/' at Hollow Meadows, near 
Sheffield, is said to turn round on a certain morning in the 
year* when the cock crows. This rock has the appearance 
of a stone pillar. The pillar consists of a large stone stand- 
ing on the top of another stone. It appears to be about 
fifteen or twenty feet high ; it stands on the top of a hill and 
is a conspicuous object in the landscape. Other stones in the 
neighbourhood of Sheffield are known as " cock-crowing 
stones." There are also " cock-crowing stones" in the neigh- 
bourhood of Ashover, in Derbyshire. There is a stone at 
Curbar, in the same county, called "the Eagle Stone," which 
is said to turn round when the cock crows. 

There are people in Derbyshire who believe that there 
was a world before this, that there will be another world 
after this, and that then there will be no more worlds. 

It is said of a small village called Ompton, in Nottingham- 
shire, that when God made the world he left a small wagon- 
load of people there, and that the village has never grown 
bigger since. 

It is unlucky to point with your fingers at the moon or the 

In Derbyshire they say that just before the world comes 
to an end we shall not be able to tell the difference between 
summer and winter. The weather will then be equable 
neither too hot nor too cold. They also say that at the last 
day the eye of God will be seen in the sky. 

There is a stone called " the wishing stone " in a wood 
known as the Faybrick at Ashover, in Derbyshire. If you 
sit upon it and wish three times your wish will be granted. 

There is an ancient chapel at Hayfield, in the parish of 
Glossop. It is said that in the sixteenth century all the dead 
in the cemetery which surrounds the chapel rose from their 
sleep clothed in golden raiment. 

* I have not been able to ascertain on what morning. Some people say that 
the stone will turn round when it hears the coek crow. But this little joke is 
a modern perversion of the old lore. 


On Kinder Scout,* in the High Peak of Derbyshire, is a 
pool called " the Mermaid's Pool." It is said that people 
visit the pool on Easter-eve at midnight, when the mermaid 
appears and tries to allure her visitors into the water. It is 
said that several persons have lost their lives in this way, 
for if the visitor refuses to comply with her request she 
drags him under the water. 

There is a big stone in a farmyard at Crowle, in Lincoln- 
shire, called " the black stone." If this stone be removed 
the farmer's cattle will die within a year afterwards. It is 
said that upon one occasion the stone was removed, when the 
farmer lost all his cattle and suffered great loss. It was, 
however, mysteriously brought back.t 

There is an old farmhouse in the Peak Forest, in Derby- 
shire, at which, it is said, there once lived two sisters who 
loved the same man. To put an end to their rivalry one 
sister murdered the other, but the dying sister said that her 
bones would never rest in any grave. And so it happens 
that her bones are kept in a " cheese-fat " in the farmhouse 
which stands in the staircase window. If the bones are 
removed from the vat trouble comes upon the house, strange 
noises are heard at night, the cattle die, or are seized with 

It is said that an underground passage runs between 
Holmsfield Castle and Holmsfield Hall, in the parish of 
Dronfield, in Derbyshire. J Halfway down the passage is an 
iron box containing treasure, and upon the lid thereof a cock 

* "Scout" is the O. N. gltuti, a cave formed by jutting rocks, M. E. gcoute, a 
rock. Grimm mentions the " M. H. G. bunder, creature, being, thing, also quaint 
thing, prodigy." Tent. Myth. (Stallybrass), p. 1408. The prodigy in this case 
may have been the mermaid. 

f The Norsemen believed that the family spirit, armaftr, dwelt in a stone. 
(Yigfusson and Powell's Corpus Poet. Boreale, i. 416). We might render 
arma'Sr " the old one," as to which see tale 37, ante, p. 38. 

J The castle is mentioned in old documents, but no trace of the building, so 
far as I know, now exists. Traditions about underground passages in connection 
with old buildings arc common in England. This is, no doubt, a traditional 
remembnuice of the Old Norse jaro'-hiis, " an underground passage opening into 
a dwelling-house, and used for hiding, or as a means of 


sits which always begins to crow if anyone attempts to go 
near the box. A similar tale is told about an underground 
passage between Beauchief Abbey and Norton Church 
about two miles apart in the same neighbourhood. The 
box which lies in this last-mentioned passage can only be 
fetched away by a white horse, who must have his feet shod 
the wrong way about,* and who must approach the box with 
his tail foremost. The box must be tied to the horse's head 
and not fastened behind him. 

A large swamp called Leachfield, situate about a mile 
from Baslow, on the road from that village which leads to 
Sheffield, is said to be the site of a buried village. Some 
people say that this buried village once belonged to one 
man who saw it all go down into the swamp one day as he 
stood on a hill. I ain told that near this fen or swamp are 
two stone circles and two rows of unmistakable stone-built 

In Glover's Derbyshire^ the following lines occur about 
this place : 

When Leach-field was a market town, 

Chesterfield was gorse and broom ; 

Now Chesterfield's a market town, 

Leach-field a marsh is grown. 

I have heard the last two lines repeated thus : 

Now Leach-field it is sunken down 
And Chesterfield's a market town. 

The place is also called Leach Fend, Leys Fen, and Leek 
Fen. The ground is very swampy; it is covered with 
coarse grass and rushes, and a sluggish stream runs 
through it 4 

* I have heard of sheep-stealers who reversed their horses' shoes to"" avoid 

f Vol. ii. p. 86. 

J This interesting tradition of a buried village suggests lake-dwellings. In 
the dialect of North Derbyshire a lache is a marshy place or fen, being equiva- 
lent to the Middle English lake, a Avet place. See my Sheffield Glossary, p. 127. 
In Wood's Talcs and Traditions of the High Pc<iJ;, lsG2, [>. 204, it is stated that 
" fragments of rude earthenware " and " pieces of black oak, squared and cut by 
some instrument," were found here on making a deep ditch. 


There is a well at Bretton, near Eyam, in Derbyshire, 
called Dewric Well, the water of which is said to make any 
woman who drinks of it fruitful. 

Children living at Dore, in the parish of Dronfield, near 
Sheffield, were afraid to fetch water from a well called 
Sparken Well,* because, they said, it was haunted by a 

There is a wishing well near Roche Abbey. If you breathe 
a wish as you go past the well your wish will be granted. 

Water that is watched is long in boiling* In East York- 
shire if a kettle boils slowly they say "the kettle is be- 
witched ; it must have a stone in the bottom." 

When people cross a stream of water, or stand on the 
middle of a bridge, they express a wish. In the East Riding 
of Yorkshire they stand by the side of a brook, spit in it, and 
wish, taking care to tell nobody what the wish is. 

When you first see the new moon you should bow to it 
three times (some say nine times) . It is often said of a man 
who is unlucky that he has forgotten to bow to the moon, or 
that he has looked at the new moon through a glass. The 
first new moon should be seen in the open air. 

The " man in the moon " is said to have a bundle of sticks 
on his back, and it is said that he was put there because he 
gathered sticks on Sunday. 

When you first see the new moon bow to it nine times 
and wish. 

It is unlucky to have your hands empty when you first 
see the new moon. On that occasion you should turn the 
money over in your pocket for luck. 

When the moon is full girls cut the ends of their hair 
even, so that it may grow long and thick. 

In the East Riding women go out of doors and turn their 
aprons before the new moon. They then wish something 
without telling their wish to anybody. 

* O. N. 82>akona t a prophetess, sorceress. Compare Sparkcii Hill at Worksop 
in Notts, and sjmkomi-fcll, a local name in Iceland. 


With reference to the crooked steeple of Chesterfield 
Church, people say that the first pair who were married in 
the church were very innocent, and that caused the steeple 
to be crooked. They also say that the next innocent pair 
who go there to get married will make the steeple straight 

It is usual to kill pigs before the full moon, in the belief 
that as the moon waxes so the bacon will swell in the pot. 
If the pig be killed in the wane of the moon the bacon will 
decrease in bulk. 

When a star shoots a spirit is going to heaven. 

There is a well at Hathersage, in Derbyshire, called Gospel 

On seeing the first star in the evening say the following, 
and wish something : 

Star light, star bright, 
The first star I've seen to-night, 
Would it were that I might have 
The wish I wish to-night. 

When the new moon appears put silver, gold, and copper 
in your pocket. Put your hand in your pocket, and, looking 
up at the moon, turn the money over. After that you will 
be lucky for a month. 

At Bradwell, in the Peak of Derbyshire, once lived a man 
known as Master John, who was reported to be a wise man, 
and whose advice was sought by all the people in the village. 
It is said that the ghost of a child who had been murdered 
in the village could not be appeased, and so the aid of Master 
John was invoked. Master John pronounced the words u In 
the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, why troublest 
thou me" and turned the ghost of the child into a large fish. 
This fish used to appear, it is said, at a place called the Lum 

* " In Cheshire in Mr. M. Kent's grandmother's time, when they went in per- 
ambulation, they did blesse the springs, they did read a ghospcl at them, and did 
believe the water was the better." Aubrey's Rcmaines of Gentilisme (Folk-Lore 
Soc.), p. 58. 


Mouth, and also at Lumley Pool, in Bradwell, on Christmas 
Day to people who fetched water from the wells there. 
When anybody saw the ghost in the form of a fish he would 
run away, screaming cc the fish, the fish."* 

When the church at Holme-on-the-Wolds, between York 
and Hull, was first built the fairies removed the stones by 
night, so that the builders had to build the church on another 

Clowne Church, in Derbyshire, was spirited from one side 
of the road to the other, and that is why it stands where 
it is. 

A long time ago there was a village in the North Riding 
of Yorkshire called Simmerdale, at one end of which stood a 
church, and the house of a Quaker woman at the other end. 
It happened one day that a witch came into the village, and, 
beginning at the house next to the church, asked for food and 
drink, but her request was refused. And so she went on 
from house to house, without getting either food or drink, 
until at last she came to the Quaker woman's- house. There, 
sitting in the porch, she was regaled with bread, meat, and 
beer. Having finished her repast, she rose and waved an 
ash twig over the village, saying : 

Simmerdale, Simmerdale, Simmerdale, sink, 

Save the house of the woman who gave me to drink. 

When the witch had said these words the water rose in the 
valley and covered the village, except the old woman's house. 
Simmer Water is now a peaceful lake, and on fine clear days 
people in the neighbourhood fancy that they can see down in 
its placid depths the ruins of the village and church. f 

* Compare Wood's Talcs and Traditions of the High Pealt, 1862, p. 183. 

f Semer Water or Simmer Lake, is near Askrig, in the North Riding. " It 
covers, at a medium, 105 acres of land, but as the banks are low, when the feeders 
are swollen by rains its surface extends to twice that measure. Its greatest depth 
is 45 feet." Whitaker's Riclimondskire, vol. i. 412, 414. The legend was told 
to me by a native of the North Riding now resident in Sheffield. 



CHILDREN say that if you pluck the little flowers known as 
bird-eyes the birds will come and pick your eyes out. 

If you sleep in a bean-field you will see frightful visions. 
Colliers say that accidents are most frequent in coal-pits 
when broad beans are in bloom.* In Yorkshire they say 
that these sweet-smelling flowers contain the souls of the 

Where there is a sweet-briar tree growing in the garden of 
a house, the mistress, and not the master, of that house must 
rule, or the tree will not flourish. 

A bay-tree in your garden will protect your house, or any- 
thing in your farm or grounds, against lightning. 

When rosemary grows in the garden the mistress rules the 

It is unlucky not to have some house-leek growing on your 
house, or the outbuildings thereof. t 

It is very unlucky to burn yew. This tree is held in great 
esteem, and farmers will not have it cut down if they can 
help it. 

If the trees of a man's orchard blossom out of season death 
will visit his family. 

An old man said that when he was a boy his mother had a 
superstitious regard for the ivy when growing upon the oak, 
and that she once thrashed him for destroying some ivy 
which clung to that tree. She had no objection to ivy being 
cut when it grew upon a house. 

An old tree, or stump of a tree, at the Hagg, in Staveley 
parish, in Derbyshire, was called a " mandrake tree." If 
cut or disturbed it was said to make a moaning noise. Its 

* Compare Terence (Eun. 2, 3, 89) Istaeo in me cudetur fala, this bean will 
fall on me, i.e. I shall have to smart for it. 

t An old house at Ecclcsall, near Sheffield, is called Thrift House, probably 
from the plant thrift, house-leek, or stone-crop, which may formerly have grown 
on the roof. 


root was said to resemble the human body. It was sur- 
rounded by a wall, and people used to visit it out of curiosity. 
It is said that a ghost used to appear on .the spot in which 
the tree grew. The parson was sent for, and he read to it. 
Then the ghost was " laid, "and the " mandrake tree" 

If you see a daffodil with its head bending down towards 
you, it is a sign that you are about to die. 

A smell of thyme may always be perceived near a footpath 
leading from Dronfield to Stubley, in Derbyshire. It is said 
that a young man murdered his sweetheart there as she was 
carrying a bunch of thyme.* 

People in Derbyshire will not burn elder wood, because, as 
they say, Christ was crucified on the elder tree. 

It is unlucky to burn evergreens, or green plants of any 

In the East Riding the bloom of hawthorn is not permitted 
in the house ; " it has such a deathly smell." 

When blackberries are over-ripe, and have lost their 
flavour, the Devil is said to have " cast his club over 

If you gather fruit on Sunday the Devil brings the fruit 
back to the tree faster than you can pluck it off. 

It is lucky to find four-leaved clover. 

When parsley is sown it goes nine times to the Devil 
before it comes up. Only the wicked can make parsley 

It is unlucky to bring any green plant into your house 
after sunset. 

If you have a witch-wiggin tree (mountain ash) in your 
garden you will never be troubled by the witch. 

In the Sheffield Telegraph of December 24, 1891, it is said 
that " The last great gale blew down in the grounds of 

* Staining Hall, in Lancashire, "has its 'boggart,' according to tradition 
the wandering ghost of a Scotchman, murdered near a tree, which has since re- 
corded the deed by perfuming the ground around with a sweet odour of thyme." 
Thornber's Hist, of Blackpool^ 1837, p. 38, n. 


Jordanthorpe,* Norton, a tree with a tradition. It is said to 
have been planted eighty years ago, f to keep the witch out 

of the churn/ The people there spoke of the tree 

as the wiggin-tree." A few days later the Vicar of Wortley, 
near Sheffield, said, in the same paper, that in his parish the 
tree is known as the ef wickersberry tree." 

In Derbyshire it used to be said that a man would be 
" transported" (perhaps a polite way of saying " kicked out 
of the parish ") if he cut down a young ash tree. In the 
East Biding of Yorkshire the seeds of the ash are known as 
" kitty keys/' or " cattle keys." 

It is said in Yorkshire that the fairies make their home in 
foxglove bells. 

When a child is born a tree is sometimes planted. At 
Grainfoot, near Ashopton, in Derbyshire, it is said that three 
trees were planted on the respective births of three sons. 
< c Two of the sons and their trees attained old age, the third 
son died in his prime in India. His tree stopped growing, 
and still remains of stunted growth." 

The rose known as the ft York and Lancaster rose " is said 
originally to have grown on a battle-field whereon adherents 
of the houses of York and Lancaster were killed. The blood 
of the slain mingling with the dust produced a new variety 
of rose. This belief is common in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. 

It is lucky to find a piece of white heather. If a piece of 
white heather be given by a man to a woman a declaration 
of love is intended. 


WHEN a bee-master dies tins containing funeral biscuits 
soaked in wine are put in front of the hives, so that the bees 
may partake of their master's funeral feast. Two kinds of 
funeral cakes are used, namely, biscuits and " burying cakes," 

* This should have been Lightwood, and not Jorclanthorpe. 


the latter only being given to the poor. The bees always 
have the biscuits, and not the " burying cakes." At Eyam, 
in Derbyshire, a portion of the " burnt drink " and of the 
three-cornered cakes used at funerals is given to the bees 
of the deceased bee-keeper.* Sometimes pieces of black 
crape are pinned upon the hives. It is said that the bees must 
be told of their master's death, or they will all die. These 
customs are rarely or never practised now, but they are 
remembered by old people. 

If a bee alights upon your head and stays there you will 
rise to be a great man in after years. 

Bees never ought to be bought; they should be either 
given or stolen. 

An old woman at Ompton, in Nottinghamshire, used to 
take great notice of bees. She once saw her bees " creeping 
about in pairs as mourners do " for many days. Shortly after 
that her daughter died. 

If a bee comes into your house a stranger will visit you 
soon afterwards. If bees swarm on rotten wood a death 
in the family is betokened. 

In the East Riding, when bees were ready to swarm, the 
new hive was sprinkled with a bottery (elder) branch dipped 
in sugar and water. When the hive-stand was lengthened 
the new part was called an eke. 

In Lincolnshire the first pancake which the farmer's wife 
fries on Shrove Tuesday is given to the cock in the crew- 
yard. Old wives cannot be persuaded to fry another cake 
until one has been given to the cock. The daughter of the 
house watches the ceremony, and as many hens as come to 
help the cock to eat the pancake so many years will she 
remain unwed. f 

* See under Section X for " burnt drink," c. 

f For an account of the brutal practice of " throwing at cocks," on Shrove 
Tuesday, see Hone's Every-day Book, 1826, i. 252. This Lincolnshire custom 
seems to show that the offering of a pancake to the cock was a pagan rite, and 
that Christian sentiment, to show its contempt for paganism, persecuted the bird 
in the same way that the wren, once highly venerated, was afterwards hunted 
and killed. 


When a cock crows against the house the coming of a 
stranger is announced. 

It is unlucky for a cock to crow between sunset and mid- 
night. Farmers will kill a cock which crows at this time. 
When a hen crows like a cock it is a sure sign of misfortune. 

If the cock crows when you are going to bed it will rain 
the next day. If a cock crows on a high building or a high 
wall the weather will be fine. 

Robin redbreasts are called birds of paradise. It was 
they who went to cover Christ with leaves, touching his blood 
with their breasts. Hence they have been red ever since. 

If a black pigeon settles on your house there will be a 
death in your family. 

On meeting magpies, the following lines are repeated in 
Nottinghamshire : 

One for sorrow, two for mirtli, 
Three for a wedding, four for a birth, 
Five for a parson, six for a clerk, 
Seven for an old man buried in the dark. 

If you meet two pynots (magpies) you will prosper; if you 
meet one it is the worst luck that can happen to you. 

When a cock reaches the age of seven he lays an egg. 

When a hen wants to sit, an odd number of eggs, usually 
eleven or thirteen, is put under her. Thirteen is the most 
common number. 

If you burn egg-shells the hens will not lay. 

It is unlucky to kill spiders, and it is said that : 

He that would wish to thrive 
Must let spiders run alive. 

In the East Eiding they say, " Never kill a spider ; there 
is room in the world for us and it." 

If you kill the first wasp that comes into your house in the 
spring you will not be troubled with any more wasps during 
the year. 

Snakes will not come near a raw onion. If you go into a 


wood where snakes are, and take a raw onion with you, the 
snakes will be driven away. 

Horses will not go past snakes or adders ; they can smell 
them afar off. 

It is unlucky to dream about snakes, which are your 
enemies. If in your dream you get safely past them you will 
overcome all your enemies.* 

It is lucky to hear corn-crakes at night. 

If you kill a beetle or a cockroach it will rain. 

If an odd cricket chirp in your house it is a sign of 

Pigs which are killed between eight and ten of the clock 
in the morning will weigh more and be in better condition 
than they would be if killed at a later time of the day. 

Take notice of the first lamb which you see in the spring. 
If it has its tail towards you, you will have bad luck that 
year; if its head is towards you, you will have good luck. 

If a calf has a white streak down the middle of its back it 
will never thrive. 

If you see a yellow frog it is a token of fine weather. 

When trouble is about to visit you a bird will come sighing 
or C( tweedling " about you so as to give you warning. 

Some farmers believe that pigs can see the wind. 

Water which is inhabited by frogs is good to drink. 

It is said that toads spit fire, and that they will fly at you 
if driven into a corner. 

The marks below a haddock's neck denote the thumb- 
marks of Peter when he laid hold of that fish to take out the 
piece of money. 

It is lucky to have swallows' nests about your house, and 
boys who throw stones at them must be punished. These 
birds mourn for Our Lord. They are sacred, and must 
not be destroyed. Cats will not eat robins or swallows. 

A story was told in Derbyshire about a cow which supplied 

* I am told that people sometimes dream that they are walking down a lane 
full of snakes. 



a whole village with, milk * during a time of famine. But a 
witch came and milked the cow through a sieve,, whereupon 
the cow went mad. According to another account it was the 
witch herself who kept the cow, and went three times a day 
to milk her, so as to supply the village with milk. One day 
a stranger came to the village and asked the witch to fill his 
water-can full of milk. This made the witch so angry that 
she struck the cow in front of him, and then the cow dropped 
down dead. - 

When crickets chirp in your house you will have good 

If a white cricket appears on your hearth death is betokened 
in your family. 

When a crow sits on a wall it will rain. 

If a raven croaks near your house trouble is near.f 

If one sees a black spider death is betokened. 

When trouble is about to come upon you, you will hear a 
noise like the chatter of a magpie, whether a magpie be near 
or not. 

When a man is in trouble a bird will always haunt him. 
He will see that bird wherever he goes. 

It is a sign of death when birds peck at the window- 

It is good to see a hawk at a wedding, because it never 
eats the hearts of other birds. 

It is good for a black cat to come to your house ; on no 
account should it be driven away. When you flit or move 
into another house it is unlucky to take the cat with you. It 
is all right if the cat follows you of its own accord. 

If your cat sits with her back to the fire it is sure to rain. 

* This appears to be the cow Audhumbla, mentioned in the Edda, that 
suckled the giant Ymi, and out of whose dugs ran four rivers of milk. In a 
perverted form we have here " the early myth of the holy cow first-born of 
things, a figure common to Indian and Teutonic fancy." Vigfusson and Powell's 
C. P. B., vol. i. ci. 

| Cleasby and Vigfusson under the word lirafn refer to Landnama, in which 
it is said that the croaking of ravens " when heard in front of a house betokens 


It is unlucky for a crow to fly across your path. If it does 
so you should say : 

Crow, crow, fly out of my sight, 
Or else I'll take thy liver and light. 

But it is not unlucky for a solitary crow to cross your path 
if another person is with you. If you are alone, make the 
sign of the cross on your left hand. The following lines are 
also said with regard to crows crossing one's path : 

One for sorrow, two for mirth, 
Three for a wedding, four for a birth, 
Five for heaven, six for hell, 

* * * * 

When a robin " tweets " or makes a mournful noise at your 
window, trouble is about to come upon the house. 

If a nurse finds a louse in her head it is a sure sign that 
her patient is going to die. 

If you dream that you are covered with lice there will be 
an illness, such as a fever, in your family.* 

It is lucky to take a horse through your house. 

When crows or swallows fly high the weather will be fine. 

In the East Biding it is said that Satan was in the hoofs of 
the swine when they rushed down a steep place into the sea. 

* Women sometimes say that they have such dreams. The notion seems 
a 1 most prophetic of the germ theory of disease. In January, 1874, a writer in 
the Sheffield and Rothcrliam Independent, said : " A few weeks ago I saw a 
woman in a melancholy state, and found upon inquiry that she dreaded some- 
thing serious was about to happen to a near relative or friend, as she had that 
day found a big louse in her head, and had done so before her father took his 
bed never to rise from it again." 

In the same newspaper, J. Law, M.D., of Sheffield, wrote a letter bearing date 
July 13, 1878, in which he said : "About thirty years ago the late lamented 
Mr. Chesman showed to the Medical Society, of which I was the secretary, a 
lamprey, or seven-dotted eel, given to him by a patient of his, a woman living 
in Green Lane. Having long complained of gastric uneasiness she vomited the 
lish, and was relieved. The woman's theory Avas that in drinking the river 
water she had inadvertently swallowed a very young eel, and that it had attained 

its full growth in her stomach The case was looked upon as one of 

those examples of hysterical malingering which do not surprise medical persons, 
only because few things surprise those who sec them often." 


It is unlucky to pull a robin's nest. If a robin enters your 
house it is a sign of deatli or severe illness in your family. 

The owl is a bird of ill omen. If it shrieks near a house at 
night death is presaged. 


WITCHCRAFT may be acquired in the following way : When 
taking sacrament at church, instead of eating the cake which 
the parson gives you, save it, and wait until all the people 
have gone home. Then walk backwards round the church 
nine times, looking into every window and door as you go. 
Then return home, and, as you go, give the cake to the first 
living thing that you meet, be it dog, cat, or any other 

Witches are dressed exactly like fairies. They wear a 
red mantle and hood, which covers the whole body. They 
always wear these hoods.f An old woman living at Holmes- 

* In Sheffield and other towns in Yorkshire it was the custom to whip dogs on 
October 18. This day was called Dog-whipping Day, and the custom is said to 
have arisen from the fact that a dog once swallowed the consecrated wafer in 
York Minster. See my Sltcfficld Glossary, p. G3. In Potts's Discovcrie of 
Witches, 1613, H. 3 a (Chatham Society's reprint), James Device " saith that 
vpon Sheare Thursday was two yeares, his grandmother Elizabeth Sothernes, 
alias Dembdike, did bid him this examinate goe to the church to receiue the 
communion (the next day after being Good Friday) and then not to catc the 
bread the minister gaue him, but to bring it and deliuer it to such a thing as 
should meet him in his way homewards. Notwithstanding her perswasions this 
examinate did eate the bread ; and so in his comming homeward some fortie 
roodes off the said church, there met him a thing in the shape of a hare, who 
spoke vnto this examinate, and asked him whether hee had brought the bread 
that his grandmother had bidden him, or no ? Whereupon this examinate 
answered, hee had not ; and thereupon the said thing thrcatncd to pull this 
examinate in peeces, and so this examinate thereupon marked himself to God, 
and so the said thing vanished out of this examiuate's sight." 

f Compare " Little Red-cap " (Grimm's Household Talcs, No. 26), Perrault's 
Le Petit Chaperon Rovge, and our "Little Red Riding Hood." This con- 
nection of witches with fairies is very remarkable, and we seem to get here 
the dress of the ancient priestess who was covered with a mantle. Compare (lie 
Old high German, hccchcl, a witch, and the Old English hacclc, a cloak. 


field, in the parish, of Dronfield, in Derbyshire, who wore 
" one of those hoods called ( little red riding hoods/ " used 
to be called "the old witch." The favourite meeting-places 
of witches are cross-ways, or " four lane ends," or toll-bars, 
where they bewitch people. 

If an old woman comes begging to your door never give 
her silver. If you do so she will gain some power over 

There was a wise woman at Killamarsh, near Chester- 
field, whom people consulted when they were in any difficulty. 
She could tell a woman where her drunken husband was, and 
in this, it is said, she was never known to fail. 

If you are bewitched get a twig from a tree, cut it in two, 
and make a cross of it. You should carry this about with 
you, stitch it up in your dress, or put it under your pillow. 
By this means you will charm away any harm that the witch 
may have done to you. 

A girl in Derbyshire who was engaged to be married to a 
young man with light hair met a wise woman, or witch, 
who told her that she must marry a dark-haired man. She 
gave the girl a piece of paper, " shaped like half a diamond," 
in which she pricked three marks with a pin. She told the 
girl to wear the paper in her bosom for three weeks, after 
which she would find the name of the dark^haired man 
written on the paper. 

In North Derbyshire the memory is still preserved of 
people who have sold themselves to the Devil. The names of 
people who have done so are mentioned. The wise man at 
Chesterfield was one of them. 

A story is told about an old woman at the Hallowes, in the 
parish of Dronfield and county of Derby, who baked oat- 
cakes on Sunday, until one Sunday she was burnt to death. 

When a horse-shoe is nailed to a stable door to keep 
witches out the nails must not be driven through the shoe ; 
they should be driven so as to hold the shoe by its sides. 
Farmers, early in the present century, were very particular 
about not having these horse-shoes disturbed or removed. 



They would almost kill a man if he attempted to remove 

To keep the witch out of your house let the handles of 
your brooms be made of wiggin (mountain ash). 

Many women in Derbyshire carry about with them a little 
cross made of two twigs of witch wiggin as a protection 
against misfortune or witchcraft. It is worn concealed under 
the dress. 

An old woman living at Greenhill, near Norton, iu Derby- 
shire, who was reputed to be a witch, could tell, it is said, 
who the next person to die in the village would be. 

On several occasions a Yorkshire farmer found his horses 
bathed in perspiration and in a state of terror when he went 
into his stable in the morning. One night, seeing on his 
premises a strange cat, he threw a stone at her and broke 
her leg. The next morning an old woman in the village was 
found to have her leg broken. It was said that she was a 
witch who appeared at night in the form of a cat. 

Traditions linger in Yorkshire about the presents, such as 
milk and other food, which had to be made to a witch when- 
ever she applied for them at the door, through fear of being 

A woman living at Eckington, in Derbyshire, was reputed 
to be a witch. She always lay in bed till twelve o' clock at 
noon. It was said that she held communion with the Devil, 
to whom she had sold herself, and that she had power to 
make people perform her commands. She once told a man 
to go to bed, when she wished him to be out of the way, and 
he immediately obeyed her. 

At Laxton, in Nottinghamshire, there once lived a wise 
man who had power to do almost anything. If a man in the 
village had quarrelled with his neighbour, or had any spite 
against him, he went to the wise man and told him what he 
was to do against his enemy. On one occasion the wise man 
was told that he must cause a man's legs to be broken off by 
the knees. This was done, and the poor man walked on 
stumps till he died. 


A woman living at Eyam, in Derbyshire,, who was reputed 
to be a witch, had a bottle of " horse-nail stumps" which she 
shook and rattled before a person whom she meant to 

In Nottinghamshire there was once an old woman whom 
her neighbours believed to be a witch. She used to take 
the form, of a magpie, and appear to her neighbours in that 
shape. When she was near to death she called her neigh- 
bours together and sang to them this death-song : 

When the Lord takes old women's senses 
He takes them over dikes and fences, 

Straight away to heaven. 
When the Lord gives old women graces, 
They wear no more witches' faces, 
For the Lord takes them straight to heaven.f 


IN Derbyshire it is usual to drive a horse-shoe between two 
flags or stones near the door of the house, the circular part 
of the shoe being driven downwards. This is done to keep 
the witch out. 

To see the vision of your future wife sit on a strike in the 
barn at midnight, when she will walk in at one door and out 
at the other. A man said that he once saw his future wife, 
a woman with black hair, in this way. Another man saw a 
pickaxe and a spade walk through the barn, which betokened 
that he would remain unmarried. In Derbyshire this charm 
is tried on St. Mark's Eve. 

If a woman's sweetheart is cold to her, or does not visit 
her when he ought to come, she should take the shoulder- 

* This is an interesting survival of savagery. When the African soothsayer 
or sorcerer gives his response he shakes a small gourd filled with pebbles. 
Macdonald's Africa nn, 1882, i. 44. 

f There were more of these verses which my informant cannot remember. 


blade * of a lamb, and, as she goes upstairs, say these 

lines : 

It's not this bone I wish to stick, 
But my true lover's heart I mean to prick ; 
Wishing him neither rest nor sleep 
Until he comes to me to speak. 

When she has reached her bedroom she should stick a 
penknife into the shoulder-blade. 

In the East Hiding the same charm is practised by striking 
a fork into an uncooked shoulder of mutton for three nights. 

If your lover forsakes you get a lock of his hair and boil 
it. Whilst it is simmering in the pot he will have no rest. 

Divination by the key and Bible is practised in the follow- 
ing way. A key is put into the centre of the Bible with the 
ring outside. A garter, made of tape, is then tied round 
the Bible to keep the key in position, and the key is sus- 
pended on the fingers of two persons. A question, which 
must be answered by " Yes " or " No," is then put to the 
Bible. If the key and Bible turn the answer is " Yes," if 
they do not the answer is " No." The initial letters of one's 
future husband's or wife's name may be ascertained thus : 
Take a Bible, tie it round with your garter- they used to be 
made of pretty pieces of crochet and twirl it round with a 
key inserted in the loop, repeating Kuth's adjuration, 
"Entreat mo not to leave thee," etc.,f the while. Then 
untwirl it, and, as you do so, repeat the letters of the alphabet. 
The letters which come next before the stopping of the 
twirling will be the initial letters sought for. 

When divination with the key and Bible is practised in 
love affairs the following words are sometimes said : ' ( Many 
waters cannot quench love, neither shall the floods drown it. 
If a man will give the substance of his house for love yet it 
will utterly be condemned." J 

* Spatulamancia, or divination by the shorn der-blade. was an ancient 
practice. See instances in Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, passim. 

t Ruth i. 1 G. 

J Solomon's Song, viii. 7. I have written down the exact words as given to 
me. They vary a little from the authorised version. 


A man at Holmesfield, near Dronfield, in Derbyshire, said 
he would raise the Devil. He took a frying-pan and key, 
and, in the dusk of evening, went to a " four-lane-ends," or 
cross-way. Many people were assembled to see him perform 
this feat. The man rattled the frying-pan and the key 
together, and repeated the lines : 

I raised the Devil, and the Devil raised me, 
I never shall forget when the Devil raised me. 

All at once there was a great noise of thunder, in the midst 
of which the Devil came ; but nobody saw him except the 
man who had raised him by the key and frying-pan. The 
man was much alarmed, and falling on his knees he said, 
" Get thee behind me, Satan, for it is written that thou shalt 
worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." 
Then the Devil went away like a flash of lightning. 

When charms and divinations are practised, as, for ex- 
ample, when the spirit or form of a future husband or wife is 
summoned to appear, there comes a rushing wind as the 
spirit draws near.* The doors shake and knock, and every- 
thing rattles. When the knocking and rattling are heard 
the door should be opened by one of the persons present. 

To raise the Devil go to bed saying the Lord's Prayer 
backwards, and take a mouldy halfpenny and some mouldy 
cheese with you. 

One Good Friday a Derbyshire girl, who was going out for 
a holiday on the following day, put a singlet t before the 
fire to dry. As the singlet was drying she saw that a pen- 
knife was stuck into it, and she also saw in the room the 
form of the man whom she afterwards married. She kept 
the knife, and shortly afterwards married the man. One 

* In Acts ii. 2, when the Holy Ghost appeared " there came a sound from 
Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they wore 

f A vest, or piece of underclothing worn next the skin. In this case it is said 
that the girl did not intend to practise divination or magic. In the East Riding 
the girl sits before the fire on St. Mark's Eve dressed only in her shift. If a man 
comes at midnight and cuts a hole iii the shift " he will marry her and swiug 
for her." 



day as she was unpicking something with the knife her 
husband saw it and said, " Oh, what torture have I suffered 
on account of that knife ! " (He meant that she had used a 
wicked charm.) He therefore took the knife from her hand, 
cut a vein in her neck, and killed her. 

In 1888 a man and a woman living at Cold-Aston, in 
Derbyshire, were engaged to be married. The wedding-ring 
was bought one Saturday, and the marriage was to be cele- 
brated on the following Monday. But, in the meantime, they 
quarrelled, and the marriage did not take place. On the 
Monday evening the boys in the village made a straw image 
of the man, which they burnt in the street opposite to his 
door, and they also burnt a straw image of the woman 
opposite to her door in the same manner.* 

Lately, at the same place, when a man was a ran-tanned," 
that is, when a straw image of him was made, and he rode in 
effigy, the image was taken round the village on three suc- 
cessive nights, and it was burnt on the last night. The 
carrying round of the image was accompanied by a number 
of people beating tin cans, and making a great din. It is 
said that if you carry the image round the village on three 
successive nights the man cannot " have the law " of you. 
In this case the man had quarrelled with his wife, and the 
wife's friends caused the image to be made and carried 

To meet your future wife or husband count seven stars 
in the sky on seven successive nights, and on the eighth day 
the first person with whom you shake hands will be your 
wife or husband. 

The following extract from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph 
of August 18, 1890, describes a charm for recovering a dead 
body : 

' ' Yesterday morning the Dove and Dearne Canal at 
Wombwell was dragged for the body of a boy named John 
Harper, son of a miner living in School Street, Wombwell, 

* This custom arose from the belief that the burning of the image would cause 
pain or death to the person whom it was intended to represent. 


who has been missing since last night, and who is thought 
to have got into the water. He was seen with two other 
boys of about the same age fishing by the water's edge, and 
has not been heard of since. It may be that he has wan- 
dered off to Barnsley feast, for up to noon no sign has been 
discovered of him. In the endeavour to discover the body 
a singular old custom was invoked. A loaf of bread contain- 
ing quicksilver was thrown upon the water, and the supersti- 
tion is that it will suddenly stop and spin when it reaches 
the spot where the body lies. So firm is the belief, that 
sometimes sole dependence is placed upon this extraordinary 
method of ascertaining the whereabouts of the object 
sought for. 

"Later in the afternoon it was discovered that the boy 
had wandered off to some relatives at Worsborough Dale, 
where he was found by his anxious parents, ignorant of the 
alarm his disappearance had caused." 

To find out where a corpse lies in the water, take a piece 
of bread and throw it into the water. On the third day it 
will stand still over the place where the corpse is. 

A little game played by children seems originally to have 
been a charm, but the purpose for which it was used is not 
now known. Two leaves are laid upon a table about two 
feet apart. Then a child puts his first fingers on the leaves, 
one upon each leaf, and says : 

Two little birds sat on a wall, 

One named Peter, the other named Paul ; 

Fly away, Peter, fly away, Paul. 

After he has said the words " Fly away, Peter," he lifts 
up the right first finger, and throws the leaf over his right 
shoulder, and after he has said " Ply away, Paul," he lifts 
up the left first finger and throws the other leaf over his 
left shoulder. Then he puts the second finger of the right 
hand on the table and says, " Come back, Peter/'' and then 
the second finger of the left hand, saying, " Come back, 


To see your future wife or husband in your dreams take a 
wedding-ring and draw a silk handkerchief through it. Then 
go backwards underneath the table, and so backwards to 
bed, and get into bed backwards. 

The following charm is to be practised at midnight on St. 
Anne's Eve (July 26). A stool is set in the middle of a 
room, and a bowl of water put thereon. A string or piece of 
rope is then hung across the room. Seven unmarried girls, 
who must not speak till the ceremony is over, come in, and 
each hangs a smock on the line. Then each of the girls in 
turn drops a bay-leaf into the bowl of water, and sits down 
immediately opposite to the smock which she has hung up. 
Soon afterwards a young man will enter the room, take a 
bay-leaf from the bowl, and sprinkle the smock of the girl 
whom he intends to marry. He will marry her that year. 

The following charm is practised on Midsummer Day : A 
bucket of spring-water is set in the middle of a yard at mid- 
night. If a girl looks therein at the hour of twelve she will 
see the face of the young man whom she is to marry. If she 
does riot see it she will die an old maid. 

If you rub the schoolmaster's cane with an onion it will 
split when he strikes you. Another way of splitting the cane 
is to lick the palm of your hand and lay a hair from your 
head across it. 

Children sometimes link their little fingers together and 
wish something. By doing this it is supposed that the wish 
will be granted. 

If two people begin accidentally to speak together on the 
same subject, or if they accidentally use the same word when 
they are beginning to speak, they should wish something, 
and the wish will be granted. 

To keep evil spirits away get a bit of wood, make a cross 
of it, and nail it to your bedroom door. 

When you first hear the cuckoo in the spring pluck up a 
handful of grass, and in it you will find a hair of the same 
colour as the hair of the man who will one day be your 


At Curbar, in Derbyshire, a young man was untrue to the 
girl who loved him. The girl thereupon took a live frog, 
stuck its body full of pins, and buried it. It is said that 
the young man suffered such severe pains in all his limbs 
after this that he came back to her an abject penitent. She 
then unearthed the frog, and removed the pins from its 
body. After this the pains left him, and he married her.* 

In another instance related in East Yorkshire the girl "took 
a live frog, stuck it all over with pins, put it in a box, kept it 
shut up for a week, after which she looked in and found that 
the frog was dead. She kept it until it was consumed away 
to bones. Then she took out of the frog a small key-shaped 
bone, got into the company of the young man she wanted, 
fastened the bone to his coat, and said : 

I do not want to hurt this frog 
But my true lover's heart to turn, 
Wishing that he no rest may find 
Till he come to me and speak his mind. 

After this he had a week's torture, as the frog had, and then 
he went to her and said he had had a queer sensation for a 
week, but he didn't know what it meant. ' However, ' he 
said, 6 1 will marry thee, but I know we shall never be 
happy/ They were married and lived very uncomfortably 

If your lover has forsaken you, and you want to bring him 
back to you, take a live pigeon, pluck out its heart, and stick 
pins therein. Put the heart under your pillow, and your 
lover will return to you. 

When bread is baked it is usual to make a cross upon the 
flour in the pancheon when the bread is in the state called 
" sponge/' 

If butter does not come properly when you are churning 
tie a te withy of wiggin " (sprig of mountain ash) round your 

* My informant tells me that she knew these people well, that the young man's 
tortures caused a great stir in the neighbourhood, and that she thoroughly 
believes the story ! 



On All-hallows Eve Derbyshire girls put a sprig of rose- 
mary and a crooked sixpence under their pillows in order 
that they may dream of their future husbands. 

When you see a white horse,, spit over your little finger, 
but do not look at the horse again, and you will find some 

When you have a new coat do not put it on empty, but 
put something into the pocket for luck. 

If you have lost anything,, get a branch of yew and hold it 
out before you as you walk, when it will lead you straight 
to the place where the lost object is. When you have 
reached the object the branch will turn round in your hand. 

If you offer prayers near to salt they will always be 

It is believed that the number seven is " the charm- 
number/' and that it differs in some peculiar way from every 
other number. 

On New Year's Day unmarried girls melfc lead and pour it 
into a bucket of water. It then assumes various shapes, 
such as a hammer, and from this they divine the trades or 
occupations of their future husbands. 

If your lover forsakes you buy two pennyworth of dragon's 
blood, and burn it on the fire. Whilst it is burning repeat 
these lines : 

'Tis not this blood I wish to burn, 
But [William's] heart I wish to turn ; 
May he neither sleep nor rest 
Till he has granted my request. 

The same charm can be practised by throwing twelve pins 
into the fire at midnight and repeating similar lines. 

If a woman wears nine pins inside her dress she can 
thereby torture her lover or husband. At Ridgeway, in 
Derbyshire, a woman was murdered by her husband, and 
after her death nine pins were found concealed in her dress. 

When you are churning and the butter will not come, take 
a red-hot poker and touch each corner of the house with it. 
You will thereby drive the witch away. 


Another way to make the butter come is to put a shilling 
into the churn. 

When the first new moon of the year appears girls take a 
silk handkerchief and stand upon a hillock. They hold the 
handkerchief up to the moon, and looking through it say : 

New moon, new moon, I hail thee, 
I pray thee this night tell to me 
"Who my true love shall be. 

Then, having gone to bed, they see the images of their 
future husbands in their dreams. 

To find out whether a person can keep a secret tickle the 
palm of his hand with your finger, and, looking him in the 
face, repeat these lines : 

Can you keep a secret, 
Can you keep it true ? 
Can you keep a secret 
All your life through ? 

Can you keep a secret ? 
I don't suppose you can. 
Don't laugh and don't cry 
Till it tickles in your hand. 

If the person who is tickled laughs he cannot keep the 

On Shrove Tuesday girls toss up their shuttlecocks with 
the feathers downwards. They will have as many pancakes 
as the number of times they can toss the shuttlecock up in 
this way. 

It is good for children to wear coral beads round their 

When a man is going out for a walk, and is undecided as 
to the way he shall go, he plants his walking-stick straight 
up on the ground, and then lets it fall. Whichever way the 
stick falls he will go. 

Two persons take the " wishing-bone," or "lucky bone," 
of a fowl, and put it upon the oven to dry. When dry they 
seize it with their respective little fingers and break it. The 



one who gets the longest piece wishes something in secret, 
and his wish will come true. He will break the spell if he 
speaks before he has wished. 

When children play at battledore and shuttlecock they 
say : 

Apple tree, pear tree, 

Pumpkin pie, 

How many years 

Before I die ? 

They count the number of times they can keep the shuttle- 
cock up, which denotes the number of years they will live. 

To find out whether your husband will have light hair or 
dark hair, take a table-knife with a white haft and spin it 
round on the table. If it stops with the blade towards you 
your husband will be a dark-haired man ; if with the haft, 
he will be a light-haired man. 

The following is a method of finding out how many years 
you will remain unmarried. Take a looking-glass and stand 
with your back to the full moon on a stone you have never 
stood on before. You will then see the moon reflected in the 
glass, and also a number of smaller moons. Count the 
number of smaller moons, and their sum will be the number 
of years you will have to remain unwed. 

To find out whom you will marry, take a hard-boiled egg, 
remove the yolk, and fill it up with salt. Eat it fasting when 
you go to bed, and then you will dream of the person whom 
you will marry. 

In Nottinghamshire on All-hallows Eve nuts are thrown 
into the fire, and wishes are expressed in secret. If the nut 
blazes the wish will be granted, but not if it " dies away." 
On this eve young men take a shallow tub, fill it with water, 
and put a sixpence at the bottom. They then duck their 
heads in, and the one who can pick it out with his teeth 
keeps it. An apple is also suspended from the ceiling of a 
room by a long string. The one who can catch it with his 
teeth is the lucky one. Apples are also roasted and the 
parings thrown over the left shoulder. Notice is taken of 


the shapes which the parings assume when they fall to the 
ground. Whatever letter a paring resembles will be the 
initial letter of the Christian name of the man or woman 
whom you will marry. 

Let two girls take the bone of a fowl called the merry- 
thought and pull it asunder, and then let the one who gets the 
shortest piece put it in her pocket for three days. If the bone 
is brittle when taken out she will be married within a year. 

The following charm is practised by girls in order that 
they may see the vision of their future husbands. A girl 
goes to a barn at midnight with a riddle or sieve, and opens 
both doors. She takes some corn, and " windows/' or win- 
nows it, in the usual way, that night. She does the same on 
the two nights next following, when the spirit of her future 
husband appears. 

On Christmas Eve unmarried girls lay a white sheet over 
a chair before the fire, and leave it there all night. In the 
morning if a spear is found reared against it the girl's 
husband will be a soldier ; if a sickle, he will be a farmer, 
and so on. 

To cross out a rainbow take two straws and lay one across 
the other. Then take four stones and lay one upon the end 
of each straw. Having done this the rainbow will go out. 
This charm is practised by children. 

To dream of your future wife or husband walk backwards 
upstairs to bed for three successive Friday nights without 

If a girl take a pea swad with nine peas in it, and hang it 
by a string over the outside of her house door, the first 
unmarried man who notices it will be her husband. 

If a girl wishes to dream of her future husband let her go 
upstairs backwards on a Tuesday or a Friday night with a 
garter in her hands, saying these words as she ties it :, 

I tie my garter in two knots 
That I my beloved may see, 
Not in his best apparel. 
But in the clothes he wears every day. 


If a girl walk backwards to a pear tree on Christmas Eve, 
and walk round it three times, she will see the spirit or image 
of the man who is to be her husband. 

On Halloween people go out in the dark and pluck 
cabbage-stalks. If on this eve you scatter seeds or ashes 
down a lane, and a girl follows you in the direction in which 
you have gone, she will be your wife. 

If you eat an apple at midnight upon All Halloween, and, 
without looking behind you, gaze into a mirror, you will see 
the face of your future husband or wife. 

On New Year's Eve three unmarried girls may adopt the 
following plan in order to see the spirits of their future 
husbands. Let them go into a room which has two doors, 
and set the table with knives, forks, and plates for three 
guests, and let them wait in the room till twelve o'clock at 
midnight, at which hour exactly the spirits of their future 
husbands will come in at one door and go out at the 

Let a girl take the stone out of a plum, throw the stone in 
the fire, and say these lines : 

If he loves me crack and fly, 
If he hates me burn and die. 

Then let her mention the name of her sweetheart. If he 
loves her the stone will crack and fly out of the fire. If 
he does not love her it will quietly burn to ashes. 

Upon St. Mark's Eve, or upon Hallows Eve, at midnight 
let a girl go to a " four-lane-ends " or cross-way, taking 
some barley with her, then let her sprinkle the barley and 
say : 

Barley I sow, barley I trow, 
Let him who will my husband be 
Come after me and mow. 

Then the future husband will come after her with a scythe 

* The three guests are the three Parcae, or Fates. See Grimm's Teut. Myth. 
(trans, by Stallybrass), p. 1746. 


and mow. Or the girl may sow hemp-seed in the garden 
and say : 

Hempseed I sow, 

Hempseed pray grow. 

If it rain hard and you wish it to be fine, lay two straws 
across and the rain will cease. Apud comitatum Derbiensem 
duo pueri, secundum morem, ut dies serena sit, in forma 
crucis mingere solent, vel solebant. 

On Midsummer Eve let a girl take a sprig of myrtle and 
lay it in her Prayer Book upon the words of the marriage 
service, " Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded 
husband?" Then let her close the book, put it under her 
pillow, and sleep upon it. If her lover will marry her the 
myrtle will be gone in the morning, but if it remains in the 
book he will not marry her. 

On Hallows Eve let a girl cross her shoes upon her 
bedroom floor in the shape of a T* and say these lines : 

I cross my shoes in the shape of a T, 
Hoping this night my true love to see, 
Not in his hest or worst array, 
But in the clothes of every day. 

Then let her get into bed backwards without speaking any 
more that night, when she will see her future husband in her 

At a wedding let the bride pass small pieces of bride-cake 
through her wedding-ring, and give them to unmarried men 
and girls. If they put the pieces under their pillows for 
three nights, on the third night they will dream of their true 

When you find two kernels inside a nut eat one of them, 
throw the other over your head, and wish something. After 
you have wished you must not speak to anybody until you 
can answer " Yes " to a question. 

If you find an eyelash on one's cheek take ik and put it 
upon the back of the hand. Then shut your eyes, blow three 
times, and guess at which blow it went off. Then wish 

* The T represent* the luumuer or sigu of the god Thor. 


something, but do not speak to anybody until you can answer 
' ' Yes " to a question. 

On Shrove Tuesday, or any other day when children are 
playing at battledore and shuttlecock, they say : 

Cuckoo, cherry tree, 

Come down and tell me 

How many years before I die.* 

The number of times that you can keep the shuttlecock up 
is the number of years that you have to live. 

There was a charm for a good harvest done by means of a 
peas-cod, which was plucked when the peas were just 
beginning to appear in the swad. Some lines were said in 
which the word " yield," as " give us a good yield," or some 
such phrase occurred. My informant remembers it very 
imperfectly, but thinks it was done by putting the thumbs 
alternately on the peas as the lines were recited. 

To find out whether your sweetheart loves you or not, take 
a daisy and repeat the words " he loves me," ' ' he loves me 
not," as you pluck each petal off. The last petal plucked 
will tell you the truth. 

A ghost will vanish if you walk round it nine times. 

The Devil hates salt and water. If you mix salt and water 
three times on a plate and sprinkle it upon anything, such as 
a dead man's coat, which is said to bring ill luck with it, and 
then make the sign of the cross thereon, the ill luck is taken 
away. This mixture of salt and water is called " holy 

To tell whether you are born to rule, clasp your hands 
together. If your right thumb be uppermost you will rule, 
but not otherwise. 

To find out whether you will be rich or poor, take a single 

* Pronounced dee. The question here put to the shuttlecock must once have 
been put to the cuckoo in spring, by those who believed in omens and auguries, in 
order to divine the number of years they had to live. 

f Such were the words given to me, " Holy water is water wherein fine white 
salt hath been dissolved. Memorandum, there was no sacrifice without salt." 
Aubrey's Remains of Gentllisme (Folk-Lore Soc.), p. 121. 


hair from your head and draw it between your wetted first 
finger and thumb. If it curls you will be rich, if not you 
will be poor. 

There is a bone in a sheep's head, which is in shape some- 
what like a cross, and is called " the lucky bone." In Derby- 
shire it is regarded as lucky to carry one of these bones in 
the pocket. 

In Derbyshire divination was practised by means of a 
spiced wine, called sillibub (pronounced sillabub). Wine was 
poured into a bowl and then sweetened with sugar. A cow 
was milked into the bowl so as to make the mixture frothy. 
The mixture was then poured into wine-glasses, each con- 
taining a spoon. A ring was put into one of the glasses and 
a sixpence into another glass. The sillibub was drunk as the 
assembled guests were leaving, and this caused some excite- 
ment amongst the unmarried, for it was said that the one 
who got the ring would be married first, and the one who 
got the sixpence would die an old bachelor or an old maid. 

If you want to prevent your beer from turning sour during 
a thunderstorm lay iron bars* across the barrels. 

A man who was crossing a moor in East Yorkshire saw the 
ignis fatuus. Taking out his knife he planted it in the 
ground with the haft upwards. Next morning he found that 
the haft was quite eaten away. 

Girls in Yorkshire used to take an ash leaf with even 
fronds, when they were fortunate enough to find one, and 
recite the lines : 

Even ash (csh) I pluck thee, 

In my bosom I put thee, 

Hoping this night my true love to see, 

Not in his vest, nor in his best, 

But in the clothes he wears every day. 

* Supernatural beings had a great dislike for iron, as Mr. Hartland has shown 
in his Science of Fairy Talcs. If the thunder was believed to be caused by a 
supernatural being this use of iron to prevent the beer from being injured by 
that being would be quite intelligible. Horse- shoes were used for the same 
reason, namely, as a protection against powers of evil, because they were made of 


In the evening the girl put the ash leaf under her pillow, 
and lay down to dream of her future husband. 

To see the vision of your future husband, dip your smock 
into running water on St. Mark's Eve and hang it over a 
chair to dry. Then he will appear at midnight and turn the 

If you throw the " float," or air-gill, of a fish over the 
house-top it will become a silver spoon. 

If you go out at midnight on St. Mark's Eve and pluck 
twelve sage leaves you will see your future husband. 

A charm was practised in the East Hiding by an egg and 
shovel put on the floor of a room at midnight, but I have not 
been able to get particulars. A girl who practised this 
charm one night is said to have been so much scared by the 
appearance of the Devil that "she became converted and a 
member of the Wesleyan community." 


To cure warts, take a bean swad and rub the warts therewith, 
when they will go away. 

Another way to cure warts is to wet them each morning 
with a little spittle. 

Another way is to twist a hair round the wart. 

Another way is as follows : Take a green sprig of elder- 
wood and a penknife. Touch one of the warts with the point 
of the knife, and then cut a snip or notch in the sprig or 
stick of elder. When you have touched all the warts, one by 
one, with the point of the knife, and cut as many snips in the 
elder stick as there are warts on the patient's body, bury the 
stick in the ground. Then as the stick decays the warts will 
decay also."^ 

* A niaii who bad thirty warts is said to have been treated in this way and 
cured ! 


Another way is to take a pea and bury it in a piece of 
lonely ground, or on a piece of land on which nobody treads. 
As the pea rots away the warts will disappear. 

Another way is to rub them with an apple, or lick them 
with your tongue when you awake. 

Another way is to take a black snail and stick it on a 
thorn in a hedge, or put it between two stones. As the 
snail's body perishes so will the warts perish. 

Another way is to take oat-straws with knots in them, and 
having the same number of knots as there are warts on the 
patient's body. Count the warts on the afflicted person's 
body, and also the knots in the straws. Bury each straw 
separately, and as the straws -decay in the ground the warts 
will die. You must do all this secretly. 

Another way is to sell your warts for a small sum of money, 
when they will disappear. 

Another way is to take as many cinders as you have warts, 
wrap them in paper, take a walk, and throw the cinders over / 
your left shoulder, without looking back. When you have 
done this the warts will soon be gone. 

Another way is to pretend to wash your hands in an empty 
bowl out of doors, keeping your face fixed on the full moon, \/ 
for two succeeding nights. On the third night the warts will- 
have gone. 

A woman at Eckington, in Derbyshire, counted the warts 
on a man's hand and told him that the next time she saw 
him they would be gone. 

Fuzz balls (lycoperdon bovista) are used to stop bleeding. 

It is good for a dog to lick a wound.* 

To keep the cramp away carry a potato in your pocket. 

A cat's skin is a good remedy for toothache. You should / 
keep a dried cat's skin and hold it to your cheek when your 
tooth aches. 

To cure a cold, walk to a particular place one way and 
return another way. 

* It is said oi' Lazarus the beggar that "the dogs came and licked his sores." 
Luke xvi. 21. 


When children are cutting their teeth their mother should 
rub them with her wedding-ring. 

To cure a child of the whooping cough, cut a lock from his 
hair and bury it in the ground. 

If you put a pancheon of cold water under the bed on 
which a corpse lies the smell of the corpse will go down into 
the water. 

If you lay a new-born child on its left side it will always 
be awkward. 

A bed should point to the east and west, and not to the 
north and south. Eestlessness is caused by placing the bed 
in the direction of north to south. 

It is good for your health to follow the plough and smell 
the newly-ploughed earth. 

If your finger-nails project in the middle you will die 
^/ It is bad for one's health to fondle cats. 

Salves and ointments should not be applied with the first 
finger, but with the middle or longest finger. 

If a sudden shivering comes upon you death is running 
over your house. 

If a child is put upon a bear's back at a bear-baiting he 
will be cured of the whooping cough. 

A horse having fallen ill at Dore, near Sheffield, a man 
bled it, and then rubbed some of the blood into the horse's 
back, with the idea of strengthening that part. 

At Dore, near Sheffield, the following wild herbs were 
" laid in," that is, hung up and dried, to be used for medi- 
cine, namely, meadow-sweet, mountain-flax, sanctuary, and 
wood-betony. Also the following garden herbs, namely, 
rosemary, hyssop, and herb-a-grass. They were plucked when 
in flower. 

Poultices made of house-leek are good for " water-canker " 
and "blasts." 
I To cure the whooping cough, bore a hole into your door- 

* L>oes this refer to the clubbed fingers of phthisis ? 


post, put a live spider into the hole, and then stop the hole 
up. As the spider pines away the cough will die. 

Another way is to put a spider into a nutshell, when the 
same thing will happen. 

Still another way is to eat a fried mouse. 

If a mother leaves her child, her breasts will be painful 
when the child cries. 

To cure the ring-worm trace your finger round the child's 
face three times, and do this three times a day. On the 
third day the ring-worm will be cured. 

If you have sore eyes poultice them with decayed apples. *X 

The whooping cough can be cured by riding on a piebald 

To avoid cramp have a piece of cork in your bed. 

To strengthen the spine rub yourself with grey snails. 

If you put a worm into the right hand of a seventh son it 
will curl up, turn white, and die. This hand is known as 
" the poisonous hand/''* A seventh son has the power to cure 
ring-worms by stroking them. He has also the power to 
cure warts by stroking them. 

The seventh daughter of a real gipsy can tell fortunes. 

If a man has a fever, lay a piece of feverfew in his bed, 
and he will be cured. 

People sometimes sell their coughs and colds for a small 
sum of money. 

If your tooth comes out put some salt on it and say : 

Good tooth, bad tooth, 

Pray God send me a good tooth. 

Then throw the bad tooth into the fire, and a good tooth will 
come in its place. In the East Hiding they eat sugar when a 
tooth is pulled out, and throw the tooth into the fire, saying : 

Fire, fire, here's a bone, 
Pray God send a tooth again. 

* I shall not soon forget how an old man, now dead, assured me that on 
account of his being a seventh son a worm would curl up and die in his hand. 
He was very serious about this, and said that he had no doubt whatever of the 
fact ! The supposed possession of this power may be the origin of the surname 
Septimus. One never hears of Sextus as an English surname. 


Some people sprinkle a little salt in water before they 
drink it. 

If a child has the thrush, go and look for a frog. When 
you have found it, put it into the child's mouth, and then the 
thrush will be cured. 

At Eyam, in Derbyshire, weakly children used to be 
anointed with May dew, which was collected in a sheet 
spread out on May eve. The dew was rubbed into the 

When children are stung by nettles they rub the injured 
part with a dock-leaf, and say : 

Dock, go in, nettle, go out ; 
Dock shall have a white frock, 
And nettle shall go without. 

When a man is drowned his body always rises to the 
surface on the ninth day. 

" One of the superstitions current at the present time in 
Yorkshire is a supposed cure for whooping-cough. When 
the patient is asleep cut off a bit of his, or her, hair, make 
an incision in the bark of a wiggin-tree, bury the hair in the 
crevice, and close up the opening. The patient will then 
recover. The woman who told me about it said she had 
tried the remedy with success." * 

In Nottinghamshire they say that to prevent infection from 
fevers and other diseases you should burn an old shoe.f 

When your hand tickles you should rub it on wood and 
not on leather. People say : 

If you rub it on wood 
It is sure to be good ; 
If you rub it on leather 
It is sure to gether.J 

* Sheffield Daily Telegraph, February 11,1 92. 

f The smell of burnt leather is very disagreeable. The Chinese believe that 
evil spirits dislike evil smells. Diseases were formerly regarded as the visitations 
of demons. 

\ To gather or fester. 



WHEN a calf is taken from the cowhouse to grass for the first 
time it must be taken with the tail foremost. 

It is unlucky to have peacocks' feathers in your house. 

If you dream of losing your teeth you will lose your best 

When you go to a new house poke the fire for luck. 

Drop an eyelash and a wish will be granted. 

The opal is an unlucky stone. If it cracks, evil is 

It is unlucky to turn your bed on Friday or Sunday. 

It is unlucky to walk under a ladder ; if you do so you 
will be hanged. 

It is unlucky to tell one's dreams before breakfast. 

If you tell your dreams before breakfast they will come 

If a new house is built a member of the family, and usually 
the head of the family, is almost sure to die. 

If you dream of the dead you'll have trouble with the wick 

If a woman who has been delivered of a child goes visiting 
amongst her neighbours before she has been churched, she 
takes bad luck with her wherever she goes. 

When you see the first lamb in spring, look which way its 
head is turned, for in that direction you will have to travel 
during the ensuing year. 

If letters cross in the post they cross out love. 

Parents should not keep locks of their children's hair if they 
wish them to live. 

If you put cream in your tea before you put the sugar in 
you will cross your love. 

If a man's fingers are long, and turned back at the ends, 
he cannot save money. 

When gipsies come to your door, always buy something of 
them. Unless you do so they will wish that some evil may 


befall you, and their wish will be carried into effect. When 
gipsies first come into a village children sometimes say : 

Gipsy, gipsy, don't hurt me ; 
Heed yon girl behind yon tree. 

If you spit on a gift, such as a piece of money, you will 
receive more. 

It is unlucky to find a corn of wheat in a loaf of bread. 

If a child's top teeth come before the teeth in the lower 
jaw he will die early. 

If you can get a threepenny piece between the two front 
teeth in your top jaw you will be rich. 

If you break a piece of glass you will not stop until you 
have broken three pieces, for by the odd number your luck 
will assert itself. 

If you name a child after a brother or sister previously 
deceased it will die also. 

If you have a mole under your left arm you will be wealthy. 
If you have a mole at the back of your neck you will be 

If you break a looking-glass you will have seven years' bad 
luck thereafter. 

It is unlucky to. remove from your house on Friday. It is 
said that : 

Friday flits have not long sits. 

When people are unlucky at cards, or any other game, they 
should turn their chairs round ; that is, they should exchange 

It is lucky for your first child to be a girl. 

When you are playing at cards on a wooden table do not 
play across the grain of the wood. 

In giving a name to a child it is unlucky to have three 
initials of the same letter, as S. S. S. or B. B. B. A child so 
named will die young. 

It is unlucky to drink out of a jug or pitcher. 

When you go out for a walk in the morning put your right 
foot out first. 


When you see a baby for the first time you should give it 
something for luck. 

If two people say the same thing at the same time they 
should lock their little fingers together and wish, and the 
wish will come true. 

It is unlucky to meet an old woman when you go out in 
the morning. 

If a collier meets a woman as he goes to his work in the 
early morning he regards it as a bad omen, and thinks that 
an accident will happen in the pit. 

It is unlucky to meet a red-haired woman in the morning. 

Stacks which are made on Sunday always get burnt down. 

When the same figure appears in the year of Our Lord, as 
1888, ill luck will come. 

A man who cannot span his own wrist is born to be hanged. * 

It is unlucky to sing before breakfast. In the East Eiding 
they say, " If you sing in the morning you will cry before bed- 

If your toes are joined together by a web you will be 
lucky * 

Left-handed people are unlucky. 

It is usual to prevent children from using their left hand, 
as, for instance, to pick a spoon up. 

It is unlucky for a knife to be left across another knife on 
the table. 

If your ears or cheeks burn someone is talking of you. 

People say : 

Right for love and left for spite, 
But either side is good at night. 

A young woman should not look into a looking-glass too 
often, or she will see the Devil behind her. 

If you laugh very heartily, or laugh till the tears come, 
you will have trouble afterwards. 

When you are confirmed it is lucky to have the bishop's 
right hand on your head. 

* This, I am told, is a litsus naturae which sometimes appears. 


If you are wrapping up table-cloths, or other linen, or 
carpets, and the ends do not meet evenly, you will not be 
married that year. 

A woman will never have good luck until she has worn her 
wedding-dress out. 

It is unlucky to turn a spoon over in your mouth. 

If pigeons sit on your window-sill death is at hand. 

If you do not cut your bread evenly you will never be 

It is unlucky for a clock to stand opposite the fire. 

If a baby girl is born with a mark between her eyes like a 
tiny spray of red currants she will be a beauty. 
. If a mother weighs a child before it is a year old the child 
will not live. 
, If a child has a blue vein across its nose it will die early. 

It is unlucky to dream of new-laid eggs. 

In the East Biding they say that if animals are fortunate 
in bearing young, for example, if sheep yield good ' ( crops "' 
of lambs in spring, the same spring will be lucky for women 
and babies. It is said that 1874 " was a terrible year for 
farmers and husbands, for so many sheep and wives died." 

When a farmer is about to sell a cow he must not milk her 
on the morning of sale. If he milks her he will have no 
luck in selling her. 

If you spill salt don't scrape it up, or you will have bad 
luck. It is unlucky to spill salt, but you can cancel the ill 
luck by throwing some over your left shoulder, which is the 
side of the heart. 

If thirteen dine at table together one of them is sure to 
die. A. sudden death often occurs afterwards. 

It is said that : 

A whistling wife and a crowing hen 
Are neither good for God nor men. 

In the East Riding they say that when a woman whistles 
the Devil rattles his chains. 


If you have, forgotten anything it is unlucky to turn back 
and fetch it. 

When a man's cow gets into his neighbour's pasture she is 
said to be " unlucky/'' 

If you find a hole or cavity in a piece of bread when you 
have cut into it, it is a sign of death. 

]f you meet a woman who squints it is bad luck ; if you 
meet a man who squints it is good luck. 

To help another person to salt is to help him to sorrow. 

It is unlucky to mend your clothes whilst you are wearing 

If the first children of a family take the names of their 
parents they will die before the parents. 

If you dream of pegging sheets out on a clothes-line you 
will soon have to prepare a shroud. 

At Our Lord's last supper Judas Iscariot overturned the 
salt-cellar with his elbow, and that caused his bad luck. 

To hear the rustle of paper is a sign of death. 

It is lucky to carry the tip of a dried tongue in your ^ 

If you sit on a table you want to be married. 

After you have worn red you will have to wear black, that 
is, there will be a death in your family. 

If a man has once been rescued from drowning he is in no 
danger of being drowned afterwards. 

It is lucky to have a horse-shoe, because its shape re- 
sembles the crown of thorns which Christ wore at his V 
crucifixion, and because its shape also resembles the halo 
which surrounds a saint's head."* 

If you point nine times at the moon you will not go to 

If one stirs up the fire and it burns brightly another may 
say, " Your spark's bright to-night," meaning that your lover 
is in a good humour. 

* This is not the true reason. The true reason is the dislike which in ancient 
belief supernatural beings had for anything made of iron. 


If a shopkeeper gives credit to his customers on Monday 
morning lie will have 110 luck that week. 

Never carry anything into a house on your shoulders, 
especially a spade; if you do so you may have to carry a 
coffin in soon afterwards. 

If you see a red spark in a candle a letter will come for 
you that day. 

If a spark flies out of a candle the person towards whom 
it flies may expect a letter. 

It is unlucky to rock an empty cradle. 

If one borrows salt the borrower must not return salt to 
V the lender. The lender must borrow from the borrower in 

If your left ear burns people are speaking evil of you, but 
if your right ear burns they are speaking good. 

Never lay a plan during a meal ; if you do so the plan will 
not succeed. 

If you hear three thumps in the house at night, or if you 
hear a willow-wand switch the door three times, it is a sign 
of death. 

^J If a woman loses her garter in the street her lover will be 

unfaithful to her. 

Ifc is unlucky to take off your wedding-ring. 

If seven girls in succession are born of a family the seventh 
will have ill luck. In some way it will differ materially from 
the others. 

In the East Eiding they say that if men sweep dust out of 
a house ill-luck will follow; women sweep dusfc up in the 
house for luck. 

If you sweep dirt out of a house yuu will sweep all the 
money out. 

When you sweep a house do not sweep the dust out at 
the door, or the good luck of the house will go with the 

If you bring dust downstairs after twelve o'clock you will 
soon have to carry a corpse down. 

When beastlings are taken to a neighbour he should not 


wash the pitcher out, or the cow and her calf will die. He 
should return the pitcher unwashed. 

When a pig is killed, and fry is sent to a neighbour, the 
dish must not be washed out, or the pig will not take the salt. 

If you stumble as you go upstairs there will be a wedding 
in the house. 

It is unlucky to pass one on the stairs. 

People who wipe on the same towel will go a-begging 

If you wash in the water in which another person has 
washed you will quarrel with him. But you can prevent a 
quarrel by spitting in the water, or making the sign of the 
cross thereon. 

If two people wipe their hands on the same towel they will 

Ifc is unlucky to spin a knife round on the table. 

If a knife falls a stranger is coining. 

Two knives laid across one another on the table bring 

If three members of one family, being sisters and brother, 
or brothers and sister, marry on the same day, some person 
who attends the wedding will be sure to die. 

If a cock crow on your doorstep a stranger is coming. 

If one makes a present of a knife or a pair of scissors the 
ill luck thereby portended can be taken away by giving the 
donor a halfpenny. 

It is unlucky to put a loaf on the table upside down, for 
the Devil is flying over the house when a loaf is the wrong 
way up. 

If you cut both ends of a loaf off the Devil will fly over 
the house. 

It is unlucky to take hold of a loaf or a piece of bread 
whilst another person is cutting it. 

If a loaf of bread is placed on the table the wrong way 
upwards the bread-winner will fall ill. 

When cattle are sold the seller must return a coin or a 
small sum for luck. 



If the middle of your right hand itches somebody is about 
to bring you a present. 

If your feet itch you are going to walk on strange ground, 
v/ When the sole of your foot itches you are going to tread 
on ground on which nobody has ever trodden before. 

Crooked money brings good luck. 

It is lucky to have a crooked sixpence in your purse. 

It is lucky to put your stockings on with the wrong side 

If your right eye itches you will have sorrow, if your left 

eye itches you will have joy ; if your right hand itches you 

will pay away money, but if your left hand itches you will 

/receive money; if your nose itches you are going to be 

kissed by a fool. 

If you take flowers into a sick man's room you will make 
him much worse. 

It is unlucky for four people to shake hands across. 

If a young married woman can cut the finger-nails of her 
right hand with her left hand she will rule her husband. 

When you comb your head and throw hair into the fire 
take notice whether the hair blazes or " crozzils up." If it 
blazes you will live long. If it " crozzils up " you will die 

If your apron falls off somebody is thinking about you. 

If you splash yourself or wet yourself very much when you 
wash clothes you will have a drunken husband. 

It is unlucky to put a lantern on the table, and people 
say : 

A lantern on the table 
Is death in the stable. 

To dream of a wedding is a sign of a funeral, and to dream 
of a funeral is a sign of a wedding. 

To dream of a cat is a sign that you have a very deceitful 

It is unlucky to give a pin away ; you should only lend. 

If in talking you make rime wish something and your 
wish will be granted. 


If any article of household use falls from a wall the owner 
of that article will die. 

A wedding-ring must not be used twice ; for instance, a 
daughter must not wear her mother's wedding-ring : 

For a twice-used ring 

Is a fatal thing ; 

Her griefs who wore it are partaken, 

Beware that fatal ring. 

If your left ear burns somebody is abusing you. You 
should make the sign of the cross thereon three times, and V 
then the slanderer will bite his own tongue. 

Those who have much hair on their arms are sure to be 

Let a spoon fall and a fool will come to see you. 

If a fire burns hollow, or divides itself into two parts, it is 
a sign of a parting. 

It is a sign of death if the sexton accidentally rings the 

At Eyam, in Derbyshire, it is said that if the sound of the 
passing-bell be very clear there will soon be another death in 
the village. 

When a gaseous piece of coal makes a spluttering noise it 
is a sign of a row ; you should give it a vigorous stir. 

If a girl's hair fall down, or if her shoe-lace becomes / 
untied, her lover is thinking of her. 

A blacksmith in Sheffield would not work again on any 
day, if, when he threw his hammer down, it fell with the 
handle standing upwards. 

It is unlucky to put boots or shoes on the table. 

If you wish something when you see a piebald horse you 
will obtain your wish. 

It is unlucky to count your teeth. > 

It is said that : 

If you toast on a knife 
You'll be poor all your life. 

Bread must not be toasted on a knife. 


It is unlucky not to go to a funeral when you are invited. 

It is unlucky to sharpen a knife after sunset. 

If the joints of a corpse are loose another death in the 
family will follow shortly. In East Yorkshire the women 
who prepare the corpse for burial say that if it is cc leth- 
waite," or limp, there will soon be another death in the 

To dream of a death for three nights in succession is a 
sure sign that a death is about to happen in your family. 

If a child dies, and its neck does not become stiff shortly 
after death, there will soon be another death in the family. 

If plants or flowers that are given to you keep fresh for a 
y long time the giver is true to you ; if they die soon he is 

If a child's nails are cut before it is twelve months old it 
will be a thief. 

If you let your stick fall you will be sure to meet a friend 
immediately afterwards. 

If a girl stiides over a besom-handle she will be a mother 
before she is a wife. If an unmarried woman has a child 
people say " She 's jumped o'er t' besom," or " She jumped 
o'er t j besom before she went to t' church." Mothers used 
to be particularly anxious that their daughters should not 
stride over a broom, and mischievous boys have been known 
to leave brooms on door-steps, and such like places, so that 
girls might accidentally stride over them.* 

If you see a white horse, spit on your little finger, and you 
will be lucky all day. 

It is unlucky to let a child look into a mirror before it can 

If you put a widow's bonnet on you will become a widow 

Never buy black pins unless you are in mourning. 

* In Sheffield a woman of loose habits is called a lecsom, or "besom. See the 
word in my Sheffield Glossary. Compare the superstitions about witches and 
their stick and broom riding. Grimm's Tent. Myth., p. 1083. 


If you put a black pin into a piece of work you will never 
finish it. 

If you accidentally put your clothes on inside outwards you 
will have something given to you. 


IN Derbyshire " wassil " cakes are made on New Year's Day. 
They are composed of flour,, milk, and the first egg which a 
goose has laid. The cake is the same as that which is known 
as " speechless cake." 

In Nottinghamshire the wassail bowl goes round on Christ- 
mas Eve. First the Christmas cake is broken up and put 
into the bowl. Then hot ale is poured over the cake, and all 
eat together. 

Near Penistone, in South Yorkshire, a large apple-pie was 
made on Christmas Eve, and a posset-pot was filled with 
posset, made of ale and milk mixed together. A large spoon 
was put into the posset-pot, which was placed in the middle 
of the kitchen table. Eound this table sat the master of the 
house and all his household. The posset-pot was passed from 
one to another round the table ; as soon as one had drunk 
enough it was passed on to the next, all the household 
taking a " sup " one by one, and using the same large 
spoon. Then the apple-pie was passed round in the same 

Ale posset must be the last thing that you drink on Christ- 
mas Eve, and frummity the first thing that you eat on 
Christmas morning. 

At Penistone, when the yule log was burnt on Christmas 
Eve, the fire was not allowed to go out during the night. In 
the morning, whatever burning ashes were left in the grate 
were carefully collected and taken down into the cellar, when 
they were put under the "milk benk."* These ashes were 
* The stone bench on which the puncheons or veisels of milk stood. 


supposed to "keep the witch, away" during the following 
year, and bring good luck to the house. They were kept 
for years, forming a great pile in the collar, and were not 
allowed to be taken away. 

In Derbyshire it is said that if the yule log is not burnt 
away on Christmas Eve the ashes or embers must on no 
account be taken out of the house. No fire must on any 
account be taken out of the house between Christmas Eve 
and New Year's Eve. 

In Nottinghamshire it is said that there must always be a 
portion of last year's yule log left in the house to be burnt 
upon the next Christmas Eve. A bit of last year's log must 
first be put into the fireplace and burnt. When that has 
been done the fresh log must be put on the fire and be 
allowed to burn for a little while. It must then be taken 
off and burnt a little every night until New Year's Eve. On 
New Year's Eve the log must be put on the fire, but it must 
not be all burnt away. What is left must be kept in the 
house until next Christmas Eve.* It is believed that the 
observance of this custom will " keep the witch away." 

If you meet with a good log of wood you should preserve 
it for the Christmas fire. 

In the East Eiding the yule cake, which was made in the 
evening a day or two before Christmas Day, was eaten on 
Christmas Eve, It was made of flour, barm, large cooking* 
raisins, currants, lemon-peel, and nutmeg, and was about as 
large as a big dinner-plate, and about three inches thick. 
It was crossed by a network of pastry in small squares. 
Before the eating of the yule cake began, a yule log was put 
on all the fires in the house except the fires in the bedrooms. 
In some families a loving-cup went round, of which every 
person at table took about a wine-glass full. The assembled 
company drank at the same time standing on chairs. Then 
the health of the oldest member of the family was proposed. 

* As to the sacred fire which was never allowed to go out, see Mr. Gomme's 
Folk-Lore Relics of Early Village Life, p. 96. The Christmas fire was a piece 
of magic whereby it was hoped to ensure warmth during the coming year- 


In the East Biding the peasantry ate nuts on Christmas 
Eve, and if the moon was full they went out into the open 
air and said : 

Yull, ynll, yull, my belly's full, 
Cracking nuts and crying yull, yull, yull. 

It is unlucky to continue the knitting of a stocking into 
the new year. The stocking should be finished before the 
year closes, and the needle taken out. The needle must not 
be allowed to remain in the stocking until the beginning of 
the new year. 

As the old year is passing away and the new year coming 
in cattle fall on their knees. 

Whatever work you are doing when the new year comes 
in you will do a great deal of the same work during that 

If you refuse a mince-pie at Christmas you will be unlucky 
during the following year. As many mince-pies as you eat 
between Christmas Day and the new year so many happy 
months will you have. 

It is unlucky to come into your house with empty hands 
on New Year's morning. 

A candle or lamp should be left burning all night on 
Christmas Eve. Unless this is done there will be a death 
in the house. It was usual for the grocers in Yorkshire to 
present their customers with candles at Christmas. They 
were made for the purpose, and were burnt on Christmas 
Eve. Usually one very large candle was given ; sometimes 
two smaller ones. The custom is now disused; and the 
grocers send their advertising almanacks instead. 

In some paits of Yorkshire master-joiners sent their 
apprentices round at Christmas time with yule logs, or yule 
clogs, as presents to their customers. 

In the East Riding the following custom was observed. 
At the dawn of Christmas Day the head of the family let in 
a boy called the " lucky bird/' who brought a sprig of ever- 
greens. He was presented with a sixpence, something to 


eat and something to drink; the repast usually consisting of 
yule cake and cheese, with mead or sweet home-made wine. 
The boy was not always dark-haired, as in the West Eiding. 
After the " lucky bird " had been, every member of the 
family went out of the house unwashed (not even the hands 
were allowed to be washed) and carried a sprig of evergreen 
into the house. Up to twelve o'clock at noon boys who 
sang carols were admitted. On this day no woman, not 
even the nearest relation, was allowed to enter the house, 
or it brought ill luck, and only men and boys received gifts. 
On New Year's Day the " lucky bird " came again and 
received the usual present. Then the boys of the family 
received presents, and after them the girls. 

On Christmas Eve, or the morning of Christmas Day, you 
should give a sheaf of oats to every horse, cow, or other 
beast about your farmhouse. 

If a dog howls on Christmas Eve he will go mad in the 
following year. 

Evergreens brought into the house before Christmas should 
not be taken out of the house until Christmas is over, or until 
Twelfth Day. 

On the last day of the old year a great gust of wind blows 
across the face of the earth, and all the earth is then 

On New Year's Eve one should go out before midnight and 
bring a piece of coal, a broom, a shovel, or other article into 
the house. This should be done just as the old year is pass- 
ing away and the new year coming in. A piece of money 
should also be put into the spout for luck, and taken into the 
house just when the new year is coming in. 

If a woman goes out of the house on Christmas Eve she 
must return before midnight. 

The first person who comes into a house on New Year's 
morning must have black hair. Sometimes boys with dark 
hair are picked for the purpose of being the first to enter the 
house on New Year's morning. It is unlucky for a light- 
haired or a red-haired man to "let in" Christmas. In the 


north of Derbyshire,, and also in Sheffield, it is a very common 
practice to ask some dark-haired man to come into the house 
on the morning of Christmas Day before any other person 
has entered. The same man will often " let in " Christmas 
for a number of families, calling at their houses early in the 
morning. He usually walks in at the front door and goes 
out at the back door. In many houses the custom is very 
strictly maintained. 

If the sun shines brightly on your apple trees on the morn- 
ing of Christmas Day you will have a good crop of apples 
next year. 

It is said in South Yorkshire that as Christmas draws near 
ghosts or spirits become more powerful.* Many people have 
the greatest objection to being left alone on Christmas Eve. 

The following carol is sung on Christmas Day and New 
Year's Day in the neighbourhood of Sheffield. It is called : 


Girls. Our jolly wessel, 

Love and joy come to you, 

And to our wessel bough (boo) ; 

Pray God send you 

A happy new year, 

A new year, a new year. 

We've been a while a-wandering 

Amongst the leaves and greaves,f 

And now we come a- wessel ing, 

So plainly to be seen. 
Soys. God bless the master of this h^use, 

And the mistress also, 

Likewise the little children 

That round the table go. 

I wish you a merry Christmas 

And a happy new year, 

A pocket full of money, 

And a cellar full of beer, 

* " As the night lengthens, and the day shortens, the ghosts gain strength, and 
reach their;highest at Yule time." Cleasby and Vigfusson's Icelandic Diet. s.v. 
jol, p. 326. 

f Old English graft', a greave, or grove. The version here printed was written 
down by me on Christmas Day, 1890. 



A apple and a pear, 
A plum and a cherry, 
And a sup o' good ale 
To make a man merry. 
We've got a little purse 
Made of ratchet leather * skin ; 
We want a little of your money 
To line it well within. 

At Eckington, in Derbyshire, a village about eight miles 
from Sheffield, the children carry a doll in a box when they 
go round singing this carol. In Nottinghamshire an old 
woman used to go round from house to house with a doll in a 
cradle. She used to sing a number of verses, which my 
informant has forgotten. As she was leaving a house she 

sang : 

And now my song is ended, 

I cannot sing no more. 

1 thank you for t' civility 

I have received here ; 

I wish you a merry Christmas, 

And a happy new year. 

In Eckington another hymn or carolf is sung by children on 
Christmas Eve, the words and tune being as follows : 


I asked 
They said 

three ships 
them Avhat 
they had 

come sail 

they had 

a Sav 

ing by, Come 
got there, They 
iour there, A 


* Some say " stretching leather." Ratcli, to stretch, occurs in the dialect. 

t It seems probable that the singer of this carol formerly carried a box 
containing the figure of a child. This is called the " bessel cup " in North 
Yorkshire, or the "milly box." (Henderson's Folk-Lore t 1879, pp. 65 and 66.) 
The boy in the ship will remind the reader of the boy Scef, or Sceaf, who, as 
the legend goes, came in a ship to Scedeland or Scandia. (Rydberg's Tcut. Myth., 
p. 87.) I published this hymn with some comments in the Gentleman's Magazine, 
July, 1890, 



*J sail - in<r bv. come sail - 1112- bv. saw three shins come 

sail - ing by, come sail - ing by, I saw three ships come 
had got there, they had got there, I asked them what they 
Sav-iour there, a Sav-iour there, They said they had a 

{fc-HH 1 J J - 

^ w 

HMS--^ -^ 

j j 



sail - ing by, At Christ - mas day in the 
had got there At Christ - mas day in the 
Sav - iour there At Christ - mas day in the 

&r rTl rf?1-^' -^ 

morn - ing. 
morn - ing. 
morn - ing- 



^ '-^HH 



_. j 


9-^- a 

k J. 

y, * ( 5- 

3 IIH-H 

^ . 

They washed his head in a golden bowl, 
In a golden bowl, in a golden bowl, 
They washed his head in a golden bowl 
At Christmas day in the morning. 

They wiped his head with a diaper towel, 
With a diaper towel, with a diaper towel, 
They wiped his head with a diaper towel 
At Christmas day in the morning. 

They combed his hair with an ivory comb, 
With an ivory comb, with an ivory comb, 
They combed his hair with an ivory comb 
At Christmas day in the morning. 

And all the beils in heaven did ring, 
Heaven did ring, heaven did ring, 
To think that Christ was born a king 
At Christmas dav in the morning. 


About Dronfield, in Derbyshire, they sing at Christmas the 
carol beginning : 

The first good joy that Mary had it was the joy of one 
To see her own son Jesus suck at her hreast-bone ; 
It brings tidings of comfort and joy.* 

In the East Riding 1 girls, who were called ic vessel cups," 
came to the door at Martinmas time, or the end of November. 
They carried a deep box in which were two dolls of different 
sizes, and sang the carol : 

God arest (*/<?) you merry Christians, 
Let nothing you dismay, 
Remember Christ our Saviour 
Was born on Christmas Day. 

In the East Riding carol- singers were called "wakes." 

In that part of Yorkshire women went about on St. 
Thomas's Eve asking for gifts of wheat or money for their 
frummity on Christmas Eve. Church bells were rung at 
seven on that eve, and then the frummity was put on the fire. 

If you hang clothes out to dry on Old Christmas Day 
(January 12) you will be laid in your grave in some of those 
clothes before the year is out. 

On Twelfth Day the bakers of Sheffield used to bake 
immense cakes called " twelfth cakes." On one occasion an 
unusually big one was made by a Mr. Walker, whose shop 
was in High Street. It was baked in sections, and was paid 
for by subscription. The Sheffield Iris mentions a colossal 
Christmas pie, prepared for a convivial party by Mr. Roberts 

* The words of the carol are the rame as those given in Brand's Popular 
Antiquities, ed. 1849, i. 454. In singing the carol the last line of each stanza is 
repeated several times. The " vessel cup," is not carried about in Dronfield, 
but it is carried about in the village of Handsworth, near Sheffield. Taking the 
whole evidence together, it seems to me that the " box," " milly box," " bessel 
cup," or " vessel cup," represents the image of a vessel or ship in which an 
effigy of the boy Sceaf (afterwards changed to Jesus) was carried about as a 
representation of the birth of the year. Vessel, orfessel, in the sense of ship, is 
at least as old as Chaucer's time. The idea seems to have been that the New 
Year, like a child, came over the sea in a ship. 


in Fargate, which consisted of 56 Ib. of flour, 30 rabbits, 
43 Ib. of pork, 12 Ib. of veal, and 20 Ib. of butter, pepper, &c. 
The weight was 13 stone 13 Ib.* 

On Candlemas Day Christmas decorations should be burnt. 
Old women in Nottinghamshire call it Blaze Day. 

It is said in Derbyshire that birds of all kinds pair on 
Valentine's Day. 

At Ompton, in Nottinghamshire, the young men and women 
used to go round begging for pennies on Valentine's Day, 
and men servants had half a day's holiday. 

A man will marry the first girl that he meets on Valentine's 
morning, and a girl will marry the first man that she meets 
on that morning. 

It is unlucky not to be standing on grass when you first 
hear the cuckoo; you ought not to be standing on a stone. 
At Dore, near Sheffield, scythe-grinders did not begin their 
business until the cuckoo's voice had been heard. 

When you first hear the cuckoo, run as fast as you. can 
until you are tired. Then take off your shoe, and in it you 
will find a lock of your lover's hair. 

In South Yorkshire a custom called " footing the cuckoo " 
is observed. The following extract from the Sheffield Daily 
Telegraph of June 5, 1889, will describe the ceremonies : 

" Thomas Worumersley, moulder, Burncross, and John 
Eogers, moulder, Chapeltown, were summoned for having 
been drunk and disorderly at Chapeltown, on the 22nd of 
last month. It was stated that the men with others on the 
day in question were observing the custom of the country 
known as " footing the cuckoo." On the day when the note 
of the cuckoo is first heard in the vicinity, the men get as 
many gallons of beer as they possibly can, take it to Norfolk 
"Woods, consume it, and generally make merry. On the 
present occasion the defendants had procured twenty-one 
gallons, which thay had with others consumed, and when 
police-constable Ellerby found them they were wheeling the 

* Gentleman's Magazine, 1824, Part ii. p. 688. 


empty barrels home from the woods,, the effects of the beer 
being clearly discernible in the behaviour of the men. They 
were each find 16s. 6d., including costs." 

At Austwick, near Settle, in the West Riding, the villagers 
had noticed that when the cuckoo was about the weather 
was generally fine. So they thought that if they could 
always keep the cuckoo they would always have fine weather. 
One season when it rained very hard, and they could not get 
their hay in, instructions were given that when a cuckoo had 
been seen in one of the small t( plantins," or woods, in the 
neighbourhood the village should be warned. So when the 
cuckoo appeared warning was given, and the morning after 
the warning all the villagers turned out to build a wall round 
the wood where the cuckoo was. The work was heavy, but 
by dinner-time they had got the wall up to the height of six 
or seven feet. But whilst they were eating their dinners the 
cuckoo, to the great astonishment of all, was seen to fly from 
the trees towards the wall, and just managed to get over the 
top. And it was always said that if they had only built the 
wall one round of stones higher the bird could never have 
got out. 

Season after season a farmer in this village had been very 
unlucky with his crops. He cut his grass at the usual time, 
and one day the sun dried it, and another day the rain came 
and wet it. So he thought the best thing would be to take 
the grass into the barn as soon as it was cut, and then bring 
the sunshine into the barn. So one day they found him busy 
with his cart. First he took the cart out into the sunshine, 
and let the sun shine on it for a few minutes, and then he 
began to tie the sunshine on with ropes. After he had done 
this he led the horses and cart into the barn, took the rope 
off the cart, and kicked the sunshine on to the grass. 

There was a deep, dark pool at Austwick, whose banks 
were a favourite resort of men and boys. One day a man 
fell into the pool, and did not come up again, but presently 
a number of bubbles came up, making a strange noise, which 
seemed to the rest to take the form of words, and to say, 


"1" b b b best 's at t' bb bottom." So they all 
jumped in one after another, to see what this good thing 
was. And hence comes the local proverb " T' best '& at t' 
bottom, as the Astic* carles say." 

Many centuries ago there was only one knife in the village, 
and it, for the sake of convenience, was kept in a large 
hollow tree in or near the village. If anybody wanted the 
knife, and it was not there, he let all the villagers know by 
shouting " T' whittle f to t' tree, t' whittle to t' tree/' and 
then the man who had the knife had to produce it, or account 
for its absence. One day, a number of men who were going 
to cut ling on the fells, borrowed the whittle for that purpose. 
As they intended to cut ling on the following day, they 
thought it was no use taking the whittle home again if they 
could find a safe place to put it in. After some search they 
found a large dark patch on the moor, which could be seen 
from a long distance. And so they put the whittle in one 
corner of the patch, and covered it over with a lump of ling. 
Next morning not a trace of the dark patch could be found, 
and the whittle was irretrievably lost. Long afterwards they 
found that they had laid the whittle in the corner of a shadow 
caused by a passing cloud. 

Other tales are told about these <e Astic " men, all tending 
to show that they were witless. The point in one of these 
stories is that it is easier to let a bull go through a gateway 
than to lift him over the gate. 

If you have no money when you first hear the cuckoo you 
will have poor luck that year. 

On a certain day J in the year women sweep the dirt from 
their doorsteps in order to keep fleas away from the house 
that year. 

Servants must not begin their service on a Friday or 
Saturday. If they do so they will quarrel with their masters 
or mistresses. 

* The local pronunciation of Austwick 

f Knife. 

J I was noc told on what day. 



If you cut your hair on either Thursday, Friday, or Satur- 
day you will be poor all your life. 

It is unlucky to go a-fishing on a Friday. 

Those who wash on Friday wash for need; those who 
wash on Saturday are sluts indeed. 

It is unlucky to cut your hair on Good Friday. 

If clothes are washed and hung out to dry on Good Friday 
they will be found sprinkled with blood. 

You must never yoke or work a horse on Good Friday. 

Those who are born on Good Friday will know a murderer 
when they see one. 

You must not begin a journey, or any fresh work^ on a 

Your finger-nails, or toe-nails, must on no account be cut on 
Friday or Sunday. The following lines thereon are said : 

Monday for health, 

Tuesday for wealth, 

Wednesday for news, 

Thursday new shoes, 

Friday for sorrow, 

Saturday see your sweetheart to-morrow, 

If you cut them on Sunday you cut them for evil, 

And all the week through you will sup with the Devil. 

If children swing on Sunday the Devil will either come or 
rattle his chains. 

People say to children : 

You must not play on Sunday 

Because it is a sin ; 
But you may play on Monday 

Till Sunday comes again. 

It is unlucky to turn beds over on Sunday. 

If you gather nuts on Sunday the Devil will fetch you. 
If you gather nuts on that day the Devil will put three nuts 
on the tree for every nut that you pull off. 

On Collop Monday, which is the day before Shrove Tuesday, 
poor people in Derbyshire used to go to their richer neigh- 


hours to beg a collop of bacon to make fat for frying pancakes 
on the following day. At Dronfield Grammar School a bell 
called " the Pancake Bell " used to be rung on the morning 
of Shrove Tuesday for half an hour, after which the boys 
had holiday. Children in this parish have been seen going 
towards the church with large open baskets to catch the pan- 
cakes which, it is said, are thrown over the church steeple 
on that day. At Eyam, on the morning of Shrove Tuesday, 
the boys in the village rose as early as one or two o'clock, 
blew cow-horns,* rattled old cans, and made a great uproar. 
The boy who remained longest in bed on the morning of that 
day was called " the bed churn." 

In the East Riding a girl who could not turn a pancake on 
Shrove Tuesday was not considered eligible for marriage. 

You must not marry during the season of Lent. 

Easter Monday is known in North Derbyshire as "Unlousing 
Day," f or " Lousing Day." On this day the men heaved, 
lifted, and kissed the girls. An old woman said that when 
she was in service near Wormhill, sixty years ago, four or five 
of the men-servants in the house did their utmost to fix her in 
a chair to be lifted and kissed. At Hathersage a young man 
was fined for kissing a young woman on this day. The prac- 
tice of unlousing was known at Baslow and at Bamford. At 
Bradwell, if a young man meets a young woman on this day 
he steals a kiss and unlouses her. In that village the day is 
known as " Lousing Day." 

On Easter Sunday it was the custom at Bradwell, in 
Derbyshire, for children to drop pins into the various wells 
in Ihe town. It was said that a fairy presided over each 
well, and knew whether a child had deposited a pin in her 
well or not. On the following Monday every child carried a 

* Aubrey in his Rcmaincs of Gentilisme, ed. by Britten, 1881, p. 18, says that 
amongst the May customs " at Oxford the boyes doe blow cows horns and hollow 
caxes all night." 

f To unlouse is to release, or set free. It would appear that kissing, as well as 
marrying, was considered unlawful during Lent, the sexes being set free (un- 
loused) to marry at Easter. In South Yorkshire marriages are still very frequent 
on Easter Monday. 

i 2 


bottle all day long, which was filled with sweetmeats, a large 
quantity of sweetmeats being sold in the village on that day. 
The younger children had their bottles tied round their 
necks. It was said that the bottles of those children who 
had not dropped a pin into one of the wells would break, the 
fairy of the well being the protector of the bottle. There 
were four or five wells in the town, one of them being in a 
place called (e Daniel's Garden." In the East Hiding children 
carried bottles on Easter Monday filled with clear water, into 
which Spanish juice was dropped. At Bradwell the children 
went round to every house begging for a present of sugar.* 

In the East Hiding children visited their parents on Easter 
Sunday, and the customary dinner was veal pie. In some 
parts Mid-Lent Sunday was called " Go-a-Mothering Sun- 

In Derbyshire the last night in April is called "Mischief 
Mght." Then boys and young men throw bricks down 
chimneys, pull gates off their hinges, and do all sorts of 
wanton mischief. But if you hang a brush, shovel, or broom 
outside your house the mischief-makers will pass by the 
house and do no harm. 

On Holy Thursday no bird will carry a feather to its nest. 
Barkers and pillers, that is, men who strip the bark from 
trees, will not climb trees on this day. If you hang clothes 
out on this day there will be a death in your family before 
the end of the year. 

It is said that : 

If you plant a slip in May 
It will ne'er decay. 

Children born in the month of May require great care in 
bringing up, for " May chickens come cheeping." 

In the East Hiding of Yorkshire the Martinmas Sunday 
dinner consisted of a roast goose. 

In the East and West Hidings school children call Shrove 

* An article entitled " Sugar-Cupping in the Peak of Derbyshire," in Hone's 
Every-day Booli, 1827, p. 451, gives a very poor account of this custom. 



Tuesday " Ball Day." On this day every child has a half- 
holiday and a new ball, which is made of four pieces of 
coloured leather sewn together and filled with sawdust. 
Everybody catches one of these balls when it is thrown up, 
and it is said that if you do not "kep," or catch, a ball 
before noon on this day you will be ill all through the 
ensuing harvest. 


IN Nottinghamshire it is said that : 

If Candlemas Day be fine and clear 
We shall have winter all the year. 

A fine autumn is known as " St. Luke's summer." 
It is said that : 

If the oak precedes the ash 
Then we may expect a splash ; 
But if the ash precedes the oak 
Then we may expect a soak. 

If it be fine on Easter morning it will be fine at the 
following harvest time. The saying is " A fine Easter, a fine 

If it freezes for three whole days together rain will 

When the " mark " of a cat's eye broadens there will be 

If it rains on Friday it will rain on Sunday. 

If the northern lights appear at harvest time there will be 

On a very bright night, when " a white streak of stars " 
is seen in the sky, you can tell by the direction which the 
streak takes whether the weather will be wet or fine on the 
following day. If the direction of the streak is from east to 


west it will rain next day ; if from north to south it will be 

If the new moon is " on its back/' or " has its back down- 
wards," the following month will be stormy. 

It is said that : 

A red sky at night 
Is the shepherds' delight ; 
A red sky in the morning 
Gives the shepherds warning. 

Rainbows are keenly watched in the East Riding 1 . 

If your cat lies with her back to the fire it is going to rain. 

In the East Riding children say : 

Rain, rain, go away, 
Come again another day ; 
Rain, rain, come down and pour, 
Then you'll only last an hour. 

In Derbyshire it is said that the weather in February is 
not as it ought to be unless one can see a white horse at a 
distance of a mile. 

In Yorkshire people will not eat or do any kind of work 
during a thunderstorm. 

In the East Riding they say that if women frisk and run 
about it is a sure sign of rain. 

In Derbyshire farmers used to carry a cand]e down the 
garden on All Hallows' Een, to see which way the wind 
blew. As the wind blew that night such would be the pre- 
vailing wind for the next three months. 

Yorkshire farmers closely watch the different appearances 
of the clouds. They imagine that one shape of cloud re- 
sembles Noah's Ark, and when they see it they say, " The 
ark is up." If the "ark" points to the south-east, or 
towards the H umber, they say that fine weather will follow. 
When, different strata of clouds appear before a storm 
the various shapes of the lower strata are called " wild 
horses," and one hears people say, " Oh, it will be a storm ; 


the wild horses are out." They call a sky which is flecked 
with many small clouds a " mackerel sky," and say that : 

A mackerel sky 
Is never long dry. 

If black snails cross your path rain is certain. 


CHILDREN who are born at twelve o'clock at midnight have 
the power, in after life, to see spirits. They have also the 
power to hear the G-abriel hounds. Children who are 
born at that hour are also gifted. 

Children who are born during the a chime hours " of a 
parish church clock, that is, at the hours when musical tunes 
are chimed, have the power to see spirits. 

During the first month of its life a baby sees in dreams 
the events of its whole future life. 

The day on which a child is born influences its whole 
future life. It is said that : 

Monday's child is fair of face, 
Tuesday's child is full of grace, 
Wednesday's child is loving and giving, 
Thursday's child works hard for a living, 
Friday's child is full of woe, 
Saturday's child has a journey to go ; 
But the child that is born on the Sabbath Day 
Is merry and happy, and wise and gay. 

On the birth of a child the father and his friends drink to 
its health, and this they call " washing baby's head." In 
the East Riding they say " wetting baby's head." 

At Crookes, near Sheffield, a cloak with a hood, called a 
christening hood, was kept by one Sarah Stead, who let it 
out to hire to poor parents in the village who had a child to 



baptize. For this site received a small sum, such as three- 
pence or fourpence. 

In the East Eiding they say that if a child screams at its 
christening it is resisting Satan. 

It is unlucky for children to cry whilst they are being 

A child which dies before it is christened will not go to 

Children who are ill-tempered before baptism will be good- 
tempered after they have been baptized. They will also 
sleep better and thrive better. In this respect baptism acts 
as a charm. 

Some people carry a plate of salt into the church at 
baptism.* They say that a child which is baptized near salt 
will be sure to go to heaven when it dies. 

Great care is taken of the veil, or caul, which sometimes 
surrounds a child's head when born. The child which is so 
born can tell by means of the caul when trouble or when 
good fortune is coming upon him. When trouble is coming 
the caul will be soft and flabby, but things will prosper so 
long as it remains dry, hard, and stiff. 

Children who are still-born must be buried before sunrise, 
or in the night, or they will not go to heaven. Burial of 
such children by night is very common in Derbyshire. No 
funeral service is read. 

For marriage there are lucky and unlucky days, and the 
following lines are said: 

Monday for health, 
Tuesday for wealth, 
Wednesday the hest day of all, 
Thursday losses, 
Friday crosses, 
Saturday no luck at all. 

* Amongst the Norsemen it was usual to put salt into the mouth at baptism. 
In Iceland a cross-shaped salt-cellar was used in church at baptism. Cleasby and 
Vigfussou's Diet., pp. 105. 510. The object was to keep the witch away. 


It is unlucky to get married in May. When a woman 
marries she should wear on her wedding-day : 

Something old, some tiling new, 
Something borrowed, something blue. 

Some say that these things should be made up into one 

It is unlucky to be dressed in green at a wedding. 

It is unlucky to dress in your wedding- clothes before the 

Be a bridesmaid thrice and you will never become a bride. 

If you learn the marriage service you will never have to 
say it. 

If you touch or rub against the bridegroom at a wedding 
you will soon be married. 

If people marry on Friday they will " lead a cat-and-dog 
life/' that is, they will quarrel. 

If a younger brother or sister marries before his or her 
elder brother or sister, such elder brother or sister should 
dance on his or her stocking feet on the wedding-day. 

As a woman's wedding-ring wears so do her troubles wear. 

When a woman marries she must change the initial letters 
of her surname, or she will marry for worse and not for 

At weddings it is usual to throw an old shoe or two after 
the bridegroom and bride as they are leaving the bride's 
house, and also to scatter some rice upon them. 

In Derbyshire it is customary to pour a kettleful of boil- 
ing water over the doorstep just as the bride leaves the 
house on her way to church. It is said that before the 
water dries up another wedding will be arranged in the 
house. In some cases the water is poured over the doorstep 
" after the bride and groom have entered/' it being said 
that the next girl who enters will become a bride, provided 
that her dress is wetted. This generally happens to be the 
first bridesmaid. 

On the wedding-day tho bride must always cut the cake 



herself, or ill lack will happen. In the East Riding, after 
the wedding is over and the bridal party are leaving the 
house, an attendant hands a plate of bride-cake to the bride- 
groom, who throws it over the bride's head, and the more 
pieces it is broken into the more good luck the bride and 
bridegroom will have. 

Races for ribbons were common in Yorkshire at weddings. 
These races were run in front of the bride's house. The first 
two ribbons were called " the bride's garters/ 7 and he who 
won the race had a right to kiss the bride. These ribbons 
were generally white, and three or four yards long. After 
the " bride's garters " had been run for there came more 
ribbons, silk kerchiefs, &c. Sometimes the women ran races 
for tea. 

A few years ago a farmer living at Middlewood, Oughti- 
bridge, near Sheffield, wished to marry his housekeeper. So 
he and the housekeeper went out one day and got two men 
to act as witnesses. They all went together to the farmer's 
house, but before they got there the farmer took the key of 
the house-door from his pocket and gave it to the woman. 
She unlocked the door and went into the house, locking the 
door after her. After a time she unlocked it and allowed 
her intended husband and the two witnesses to enter.* When 
they had entered the farmer called upon the two men to 
witness that he took the woman for his wife. 

At Kneesall, in Nottinghamshire, there are two entrances 
to the churchyard, one called the Bride Gate, and the other 
the Corpse Gate.f On no account must the bride enter the 
churchyard through the Corpse Gate. 

When a corpse is carried to the churchyard it must be 
carried with the feet foremost. 

If you bake bread when there is a corpse in the house it 
will not rise in the pan ch eon. 

* By giving the key, and with it possession of the bouse, to the woman the 
man seems to have been following the old Norse custom of purchasing a wife, 
the delivery of possession of the house being the mundr, or consideration paid. 

f i.e. lich-gate. No example of the word " bride-gate " occurs in the Ncic 
EIKJ. Diet. 



When a corpse is laid out it should always be laid with 
the feet towards the rising sun.* 

In Derbyshire it is said that people are buried with their 
feet towards the east because their feet will then point 
towards the Mount of Olives, upon which Christ will appear 
on the Day of Resurrection. 

At Eckington, in the same county, when a corpse was laid 
out food was placed upon a table within reach of the body. 
This practice was invariably adhered to. 

Never lock up and leave a house in which a corpse lies. 
When a death occurs the doors and windows of a house 
should be left open so that the spirit may pass out. 

When a man is dying a long way off his image appears to 
his relations at the moment of death. 

At Dore, in Derbyshire, it was customary when a corpse 
was laid out to lay a pewter plate containing a handful of 
salt upon the breast. t 

At a funeral in Derbyshire wine is first offered to the 
bearers who carry the corpse. This custom is strictly main- 
tained, the guests not receiving any wine until the funeral 
party has returned from church. 

At Eyam, in the same county, it is considered unlucky for 
a man to be laid in the earth until some tears have been 
shed over him. 

It is good that it should rain at a funeral, for if the dead 
man's friends are not mourning for him the heavens are 

A man cannot die easily if he lie on hen's feathers. 

When a dying man has " something on his mind " he 
cannot die until he has divulged it. 

When you see a corpse do not come away without touching 
it, or you will have an ugly dream about it. In the East 

* It was the custom of Christians to bury their dead with the feet towards the 
rising sun. The brass effigies and old sculptured figures in our English churches 
have their faces turned towards the east, 

f The object was to keep the witch away, and we have just seen that salt in 
baptism was used for the same purpose. 


Riding they say that you will never be afraid of the dead if 
you kiss the corpse. 

The first person to meet a funeral will be the first to die. 
A woman living at Dronfield, in Derbyshire, was in the habit 
of following funerals to see who the first person to meet the 
corpse was. 

As the spirit is leaving the body of one who is dying a rap 
is heard. This is called " spirit-rapping." 

When you drink wine at a funeral every drop that you 
drink is a sin which the deceased has committed. You 
thereby take away the dead man's sins and bear them your- 

At funerals in Dronfield the coffin is laid on a table, which 
is put outside the house, and covered with a white cloth. 
The neighbours come and lay flowers, such as bachelors' 
buttons, bergamot, &c., upon the cloth. They also sing a 

In the East Riding people used to make their own shrouds, 
and this was often done many years before their deaths. In 
Derbyshire they often make their own coffins. 

The spirit will always haunt the room in which its body 
died unless a candle be kept burning there all night. 

When a corpse is taken from a house to be buried the 
door must remain open until the return of the mourners. 

At all funerals in Eyam cakes were given to the mourners, 
and each mourner carried his cake to church wrapped up in 
a handkerchief. The cakes were always three-cornered or 
triangular, and were usually spiced with currants. The 
mourners also partook of spiced ale, which was known as 
" burnt drink/' It was a dark-looking liquid, with a strongly 
aromatic smell, and consisted of ale spiced with cloves, 
nutmeg, ginger, and mace. It was drunk out of a large 
tankard, which was handed round to the mourners at the 
door of the house, when the funeral procession was about to 
start for the church. At the same time the three-cornered 
cakes were handed round to the mourners in a large round 
willow basket. The same tankard and basket were used at 



all funerals. The mourners walked before the corpse, and 
sang all the way to church. 

At the funeral of one Lydia Brushfield every child in the 
village received a twopenny-piece and a cake. 

At Eyam the corpse was watched all night, and a candle 
burnt all night at each end of the coffin. This watching was 
called " lich-waking." * 

In Eyam, at the funeral of an unmarried girl, a garland 
made of white satin ribbons was carried before the corpse to 
church. The garland was laid on two crossed sticks of green 
willow, and was borne by four girls dressed in white. 

When a corpse from another parish is buried in the church 
or churchyard of Eyam the passing-bell is not tolled on the 
day of the funeral, but on the day before, and usually at 
twelve o'clock at noon. 

At all funerals a portion of the ' ' burnt drink " and three- 
cornered cakes was offered to the bees of the deceased. 

It was the custom in Derbyshire for people to preserve 
their teeth in jars until their deaths, after which the teeth 
were put into their coffins and buried with them. Mothers 
would also preserve the teeth of their infant children and 
keep them in jars. It is said that when you go to heaven 
you will have to account for all the teeth that you have had 
upon earth. A man said that his grandmother used to call 
out at a funeral, " Have you got his teeth in the coffin ? " or 
" Don't bury him without his teeth." 

In the north of Derbyshire, when a young unmarried 
woman is buried, eight girls, dressed in white, who have 
been her friends, carry the body to church. They must 
always go by the main road, and not by a bye road. If they 
have to pass a chapel or other " place of worship," which 
she has been accustomed to attend, they stop and sing a 

In the same county it was formerly the custom on All 
Saints' Day to strew flowers on the graves of one's relations 

Chaucer mentions the HchwaJte. 


and friends. It is said that this day is especially sacred 
to the saints who have gone before, and that we should 
devote that day entirely to thinking of the departed. 

It is lucky to be buried in linen. At funerals in the East 
Riding fifty years ago the woman wore black silk hoods with 
a long piece of silk hanging over their shoulders. These could 
be hired from dressmakers. When a young girl died she 
was carried to her grave by young girls who were her 
friends. These girls wore black frocks, white silk shawls, 
white gloves, and white bonnets. A woman's wardrobe was 
not considered complete if it did not contain a white silk 


IT is the custom in Nottinghamshire to make the last sheaf of 
the harvest big in order to ensure a good crop the next year. 
The youngest boys in the village ride home on the last load of 
wheat, the wagon being decorated with branches of trees. 
Apples and buckets of cold water are thrown over the boys 
as they ride home singing the following harvest song : 

Mr. is a good man, 

He lets us ride his harvest home, 
He gives us apples, he gives us ale, 
We wish his heart may never fail. 

(Chorus) With a hip, hip, hurrah, 

A dry wagon, a dry wagon, 

A sup of cold water 

To keep it from swagging. 

God bless these horses that trail us home, 
For they've had many a weary bone, 
They've rent their clothes and torn their skin, 
All for to get this harvest in. 

(Chorus as before.) 



In the East Riding of Yorkshire they sang : 

We ivver, we ivver at oor toon end, 
Hev a cup o' good yall, an' a croon to spend ; 
We've rent our cloos, we've tore oor skin, 
To get oor maister's harvest in. 

A woman must always bind at least one sheaf in the field at 
harvest, and she must come to do this if she is ever so busy. 

It is believed that the harvest will not be good unless a 
woman has had a hand in it. For the same reason a woman 
must always assist in the setting or planting of potatoes. 

In the East Hiding a young girl decked with ribbons and ears 
of wheat rode home on the last load of wheat. 

When children at school make oaths or promises to each 
other the deponent wets his finger and shows it to the other 
children in order that they may see that it is wet. As soon as 
the finger is dry the deponent draws it across his throat like a 
knife and says : 

Is it wet ? Is it dry ? 

I'll cut my throat before I die. 

Here's the knife to cut it with, 

And here's the dish to catch the blood.* 

Some people in Derbyshire take oaths on salt instead of 
on the Bible. 

66 In the time of roses," says one of my correspondents, 
" many a swain who had been disdained was the recipient of a 
white rose, well peppered, from a not too susceptible fair one." 

At Cold- Aston, in Derbyshire, a young man was forsaken by 
his mistress, who married another. On the morning after the 
marriage large oval garlands made of evergreens, dragon lilies, 
and other flowers, and ribbons were found hung up in a tree 
near the forsaken lover's house. An onion and a bottle con- 
taining urine were also suspended from the tree. The tree was 
an old sycamore maple which formerly stood opposite to the 

* " The emigrants from Salzburg dipped a wetted finger in salt and swore." 
Grimm's Teut. Myth., p. 1049. 


village blacksmith's shop. The same custom has been observed 
at Eyam within the last few years. 

In Derbyshire a ceremony called " the ribbon-dance "is, or 
was, performed I could not ascertain on what day. A pole is 
fixed up, from the top of which a number of long ribbons, each 
of a different colour, are hung. Each dancer takes a ribbon 
in his hand, and the dance is performed in such a way that 
the ribbons are twisted or woven into a particular shape, 
and afterwards untwisted. The performance is said to be a 
very pretty sight. 

It is said that Woodend farm, now in the liberty of Beauchief, 
and county of Derby, was alienated from the adjoining parish 
of Norton in the following manner. A man being found dead 
on the farm the inhabitants of Beauchief requested the people 
of Norton to bury him in their churchyard, but they refused. 
A like application was made to the inhabitants of the adjacent 
hamlet of Ecclesall, but they also refused. After this the body 
was brought to Beauchief and buried in the abbey yard, and it 
is said that the inhabitants of Beauchief thereby acquired the 
right to include Woodend farm within their liberty. It is also 
said that the union of the hamlet of Upperthorpe with Sheffield 
occurred in the same way. 

When a servant-girl first comes into a house she counts the 
number of the bars in the grate of the kitchen-fire, and also the 
number of steps on the stairs, and the cellar-steps.* 

I am told that when the bounds of a parish were beaten 
children were sometimes whipped to make them remember the 
occasion. The punishment of an offending boy was often 
reserved, it is said, by his father for this occasion. On the day 
of perambulation he got a good whipping. 

A child should have an egg given to it when it first goes into 
a house. At Cold- Aston, in Derbyshire,, when a child is taken 
into a house for the first time it, is presented with an egg, a 
little salt, and a silver coin. The palm of the child's hand is 
crossed with the silver coin for luck. If it grasps the coin it 

* Perhaps this is hardly folklore, but I give it the benefit of the doubt. 


will have a good chance of living and thriving. Sometimes a 
pair of shoes and a silver sixpence are given, with a wish that 
the child's footsteps may be silvered through life with happiness. 

When a man comes home drunk he throws his hat into the 
house to see whether he will be welcome. If the hat is taken 
into the house he will be welcome, but not if it is thrown out. 

A cinder is regarded as an emblem of love. A cinder is 
sometimes wrapped up in a piece of paper and given to the 
object of one's affection. People are quite serious in making 
this present. 

Always wash your hands before eating. Unless you do this 
you do not pay a proper respect to the giver of the food. Some 
people are very particular about this, not as a matter of cleanli- 
ness, but in deference to religious custom. 

About ten years ago a new bell at Holmesfield, near Dron- 
fielcl, in Derbyshire, was baptised. 

It was usual to save money for making tharf-cakes. People 
would subscribe so much each, say a halfpenny a week, towards 
a fund for making these cakes. The cakes were eaten in 
November, first at one man's house, and the next year at another 
man's house. Tims the neighbours in their turn held a little 
yearly feast. These entertainments were called " tharf-cake 
joinings." At the thar-cake, or tharf-cake joining in Hathersage 
it was customary to keep a bit of the cake from one November 
to the next. 

In Nottinghamshire it is said that a long time ago a lady who 
had lost her way on the heath was enabled to retrace her steps 
to the village in which she lived by the sound of the church 
bells. To show her gratitude for this she left an acre of ground 
to the sexton on condition that the bell should be rung at five in 
the morning and eight in the evening from October 19 to 
March 25. A similar tale is current in Sheffield. It relates 
that a man who had lost his way on the moors was saved by the 
sound of the bells in Sheffield church steeple. He, too, accord- 
ing to the popular account, left money or land for the ringing 
of bells in Sheffield church every Tuesday evening. " This 
Tuesday ringing is only in the winter months. It begins on 


the Tuesday after Doncaster races rather a curious calendar 
for church bells and continues until Shrove Tuesday. It is, 
no doubt, an immemorial custom, connected possibly with the 
market-day.'' * At Ashover, in Derbyshire, the curfew bell used 
to be rung at eight in the evening from March to October, 
except on Saturday and Sunday, when it was rung at seven. 
It was not rung in the summer months at all.t There is a 
legend at Stamford Bridge, in the East Riding, about a man 
who lost his way when returning from a fair, and was saved by 
the sound of the bells. He left a guinea a year to the church 
for ever. 

At Eyam, in Derbyshire, the curfew bell is rung at eight 
o'clock in the evening, from the 29th of October to the 25th of 
March. It is rung on a particular bell in the belfry. Imme- 
diately after the curfew bell has been rung the day of the month 
is tolled. This bell is there held up as a terror to children. A 
mother will say to her child, " If thou doesn't get off to bed tli' 
curfew wi' th' iron teeth will come and fetch thee." At 
Treeton, near Sheffield, there is a field called Church Land, 
or Bell Field, " the income of which was paid to the bellman at 
the church for ringing the bell three times a day at six, 
twelve, and eight o'clock." The bell ringers have received the 
income for the last forty or fifty years. The size of the field is 
2a. Ir. 20p. " All attempts to discover the origin of the charity 
have failed." J 

I have heard people say that, fifty years ago and more, there 
was much rivalry in Derbyshire between one village and 
another. The inhabitants of one village, especially boys, would 
regard those living in an adjacent village as foreigners. If a 
boy went into another village he would ba attacked by the boys 
living there, and I have been stoned myself when going through 
a village to which I did not belong. I have heard old people 

* Leader's Reminiscences of Old Sheffield, 1875, p. 49. 

t This was told to me by an aged woman at Ashover whose father was parish 
clerk early in the present century. She had often rung the bell herself. 

J Charity Commission Inquiry, reported in Sheffield Independent, March 8, 


say how much manners are improved in tins respect. There 
was great rivalry between the boys of Dore and Totley, who 
used to revile each other, the Dore boys saying : 

Totley bags,* 


Water-porridge and hardly that. 

The Totley boys replied : 

Dore bugs, 


Eating out o' swill-tubs, 

Up a ladder and down a wall, 

A penny loaf will serve you all. 

The girls of the two hamlets were equally hostile to each 
other, and used a set of verses, too coarse to quote, in which 
they imputed gross unchastity to each other. I have been told 
that people in Dore objected to live in houses which had cham- 
bers or staircases in them, and hence the line 

Up a ladder and down a wall 

was intended to be a piece of stinging abuse. 

Old Moses B , of Dore, used to go up into his bedroom 

by means of pegs driven into the wall. 

The inhabitants of Dore and Totley were very clannish. It 
was said that there were not more than than three or four sur- 
names amongst them, the saying being " Dore for Taylors and 
Elliots" (pronounced Yellots), and "Wards and Greens for 
Totley." Occasionally, to prevent confusion, a man took his 
wife's name. At one time there were not less than four persons 
in Dore who had adopted their wives' surnames. 

When two boys are going to fight) an umpire is chosen to see 
fair play done. When the umpire has been agreed upon, he 
puts the back of his hand under the chin of one of the com- 
batants and says, " Spit o'er my hand." He then puts his hand 

* The word bug here means a hobgoblin or scarecrow, as in Coverdale's 
translation of Psalm xci. 5 : "Thou shalt not nede to be afrayd for eny bugges 
by night." In More's Comfort against Tribulation, quoted in the New Eng. 
Diet., mention is made of " such black bugges in dede as folk call deuilles." 

K 2 


under the other boy's chin and repeats the same words. That 
having been done, he says : 

T' best cock 

Gic t' other a knock, 

and then the fiffht begins. 

When two boys quarrel and a fight is likely to ensue, one of 
them strikes the other on the shoulder with his fist three times, 
calling the first blow "the scarding blow," the second "the fight- 
ing blow," and the third " the everlasting blow." If his opponent, 
after having been struck three times, refuses to give battle, the 
other spits over his head and says, " T' cock o'er t' midden." 

In Derbyshire, when cattle, such as horses and cows, die, it is 
usual to bury them under fruit-bearing trees in the orchard. 

When people go into a new house they hold a feast, called a 
" house-warming," and drink hot ale till late at night. 

The following account of a custom of swimming for a hamlet 
or village has been given to me. The hamlet of Pleasley Hill, 
situate in the parish of Mansfield and county of Nottingham, is 
divided from the ancient parish of Pleasley, in Derbyshire, by a 
deep, narrow ravine of limestone. Through this valley runs a 
stream or river, called the Mayden, or Meden, which separates 
Pleasley Hill from Pleasley. My informant says that a dispute 
once arose as to whether Pleasley Hill belonged to Mansfield or 
to Pleasley, and the matter was settled by a swimming match 
down the river. A Pleasley Hill man was chosen to represent 
his own hamlet, and a Pleasley man to represent that village. 
The swimmers, however, reached the goal at the same time, so 
that the Pleasley men did not succeed in getting Pleasley Hill 
annexed to their village. It still remains in the parish of Mans- 
field and in another county.* 

At Bradwell, and other villages in the Peak of Derbyshire, 
young men who courted girls residing outside the limits of their 

* The old woman from whom this information was derived said that her 
father was the man chosen to swim for Pleasley. This is evidently an interesting 
relic of a clan feud, like the feuds which have been continued down to recent 
times at Scarborough, Lucllow, Derby, Ashbourne, &c. See Mr. Gomme's 
Village Community, p. 210. 


own township had to pay a fine, called " cock-walk," or " foot- 
ale," to the young men in whose township such girls resided. 
This fine was Is. 6d. at Brad well ; in some places it was Is. If 
the fine was paid, the interloper was permitted to go free and 
unmolested. But if the interloper refused to pay, a halter was 
put round his neck and he was driven round the village. The 
money was divided by the young men who exacted the fine, and 
it was usually spent in drink. 

It is the custom in East Yorkshire for girls to give a silver 
coin to the men working in a hay-field or harvest-field, when 
they first enter the field. Unless they do this the men are 
privileged to kiss them. 

When a man's bees swarm they can be followed upon his 
neighbour's property by tinkling a bell, an old tin shovel, a pan, 
&c. The bees are said to like this noise, and the tinkling gives 
the owner of the swarm the right to follow it. In the evening 
before they swarm they make a peculiar murmur, like " ootie, 
ootie, ootie." 

In East Yorkshire it is said that a man must be able to keep 
the pot boiling on Sunday before he marries, by which is meant 
that he must be able to provide a home for a wife. The pot is a 
large iron cauldron, called u t' keeal pot," suspended by a 
" rackan hook" from a beam or bar, called the "galley balk," 
in which meat, vegetables, and flour dumplings are boiled toge- 
ther, the broth being served in large basins for dinner. Sunday 
is known as " pot-day," Monday as " pudding-day," Tuesday as 
" pie-day," Wednesday as "pot-day," Thursday as (i pudding- 
day," Friday as "pie-day"; on Saturday odds and ends of all 
sorts are eaten up. 

A man at Cold- Aston, in Derbyshire, took an oath that if he 
did not shoot the gamekeeper he hoped all his hair would come 
off.* Eventually his hair did come off, and it was said that it 
was on account of the oath. 

* My informant said that he had no hair at all en his head ; "it looked like a 
bladder of lard." Vows neither to cut or comb the hair until an enemy had been 
slain or a comrade avenged were common amongst the ancient Germans. See 
Tacit. Germ., 81, and references in Vigfusson and Powell's Corpus Poet. 
Boreale, i. 424. 



THERE are people in Derbyshire who firmly believe that giants 
and dwarfs were real beings which once existed in England. In 

o & 

that county fairies are said to be " little beings abont a yard 
high which are always jumping up and down." 

The rings which fairies make on the ground cannot be 
removed by the plough. They appear in every kind of field 
but cornfields, where they do not appear. 

When people are lost on the moors they sometimes see fairies 
dancing before them and leading them on their way. 

Wherever the fairies dance the green ring or dark earth is 
always to be seen. The fairies can always be seen, in the dusk 
of evening, in a certain meadow called the Stocking Field, at 
Calver, near Baslow, in Derbyshire. They dance in rings, and 
in the midst of the ring is a little woman, herself a fairy, who is 
called the midwife, and is always blindfolded.* 

In Derbyshire, when a woman is about to be delivered of a 
child, the fairies come, nobody knows how, bringing with them a 
little fairy woman,, called a midwife, whose eyes are covered 
with a hood. In the same mysterious manner as the fairies 
bring the midwife they fetch her away, after she has assisted 
the woman in her labour. t 

A man said that when he was a boy he saw a fairy sitting on 
the stone steps which led up to a bedroom in an old house, and 
was much frightened at the apparition. She appeared to be a 
diminutive woman. 

Fairies are always dressed in a red mantle and hood, which 
covers the whole body, and witches are dressed exactly in the 
same manner. 

* The man who related this account to me firmly believed it, and he said, 
" What a shame it is that the midwife should be blindfolded and not see the fun 
that goes on ! " 

f Here the fairy midwife appears as Juno Lucina, goddess of child-birth, the 
attendant fairies forming her escort or train. Amongst the Greeks birth was 
forwarded by divine being? called 'E ; xs;^//, handmaids of Hera. See Iliad, 
xi. 270. 


If a fairy does you a kindness, or a " good turn," you must 
keep it secret, If you tell anybody the fairy will never do you 
a good turn again. 

A Derbyshire man described dwarfs to me as " very small 
pretty-featured people," who run about in the chinks and fissures 
of rocks. A tale is told in the High Peak about a man who went 
to see the end of the world. He kept going down and down 
in the earth until he came to the place where these little people 
dwelt. He said u They were no bigger than cocks and hens." 

Women at Eckington, in Derbyshire, used to sweep their 
hearths up clean every night before they went to bed. They 
said that unless they did this the fairies would never visit their 
houses and bring them good things. 

Many years ago a woman, who lived at Morewood's* Farm, 
near Holmesfield, in Derbyshire, went away from home to her 
daughter's funeral. Although she left the house empty and 
locked up, yet when she came back she found that the fire was 
still burning and the house put in order. She believed that the 
fairies had done this, and the affair was a good deal talked 

Mountain-flax is spun by the fairies. 

A part of a road leading out of Crowle, in Lincolnshire, is 
unfinished, and never will be finished. A farmer once met a 
mysterious person f who inquired of him why the road was not 
finished, and told the farmer that he would finish it if he would 
turn his back and not watch how it was done. But when the 
farmer heard the tinkering and hammering on the road he 
could not resist the temptation of looking round. He then saw 
a number of little men working at the road. But they vanished 
in an instant, and the road returned to its former condition and 
never can be mended. 

In Derbyshire women used to mix their leaven for oatcake 
the night before baking it. In the night they heard the voices 

* Pronounced Murruds by my informant. 

t This appears to be Robin Goodfellow in tbe character of lar vialis, or 
tutelary god of the ways. Some describe the mysterious person as " a man in 



of "little people" pattering about the house and moving the 
" doshin," or bowl in which the leaven was mixed, about. 

It is said that fairies come into grocers' shops and take away 
anything that they may fancy. If the grocer, or any of his 
family, come into the shop whilst the fairies are there, they are 
blindfolded by the motion of the fairies' hands. 

Fairies sometimes take babies away. They take a healthy 
and leave a sickly child, 

It is said that Dead Man's Lane, Ecclesall, near Sheffield, 
was frequented by fairies. The lane was overgrown with grass, 
upon which, it is said, the dark green fairy rings could be seen. 

At Curbar, in Derbyshire, it is said that Morris dancing is 
really fairy dancing, and that " Morris dancing " means " fairy 
dancing." * Morris dancers of the present day, it is said, go 
through the same form of dancing that the fairies go through, 
except that they cannot perform such intricate figures as the 
fairies can. The figures which the Morris dancers of the present 
day go through are very elaborate and very difficult to learn. 
A man said to me that Morris dancing had been " taken away 
from the fairies." Morris dancing is still practised at Eyam and 
at Tideswell, in Derbyshire, and the following is the tune which 
the dancers use : 

* This connection between Morris dancing and fairy dancing is very curious. 
Some fields in Norton, in Derbyshire, are called Morris Lands, and I' have seen 
them mentioned in a document of the sixteenth century. 


When the dancers get to the long note they throw up their 
handkerchiefs. They have a red or blue handkerchief in one 
hand, and a white one in the other. 

People in Lincolnshire say that a u Dead Cart " comes round 
in the middle of the night, drawn without horses or any visible 
means of locomotion. If you look out of the window when you 
hear the noise of its wheels passing by you will see yourself in 
the cart amongst those who are doomed to die in the coming 
year. A death will happen in the house on or before'the third 
day after the cart has been heard. 

Cross-roads are often said to be haunted by barghasts, 
boggards, or headless women. Thus " the boggard of Bunting 
Nook" (a place in Norton, near Sheffield, where three roads 
meet) is held up as a terror to children, and a headless woman 
is said to appear at the place where three roads meet between 
Cold-Aston and Dronfield, in Derbyshire. It is said that a 
headless woman used to be seen between Bowshaw and Hullat 
Hall, in Dronfield parish. 

Wherever there is a " four lane ends," or place where two 
roads cross each other, a ghost is to bo seen at night. 

A barghast is described as a being which resembles a large 
black dog, having eyes like saucers. One of these beings is said 
to have appeared at a three lane ends"'* at Bury Hill, near 
Holmesfield. A woman who saw a barghast near these " three 
lane ends " said that it was invisible to her sister, who died a 
month afterwards. 

If you see a barghast it will be visible to your companions if 
you touch them. 

In the night-time people who lie in bed sometimes hear the 
sounds of cock-crowing in the house downstairs when there are 
no cocks near. 

A headless woman is said to appear at midnight at an old 
house situate at Over Hurst, in the parish of Hathersage, in 

People sometimes say that they see headless dogs, and that 
the appearance of such a dog is an omen of death. 

* Trivium t 


Near Dead Lane, or, as it was formerly called, Deadman's 
Lane, near Greystones, Ecclesall, in the parish of Sheffield, a 
headless woman robed in white is said to appear. 

" Peggy wi' t' lantern " is usually seen " in sicks or marshy 

On a common between Ossington and Kneesall, in Nottingham- 
shire, a ghost in the form of a woman appears after sunset. This 
being is called Peggy Whooper. 

The ghost of one of the Brights of Whirlow Hall, near 
Sheffield, was said to appear in a lane near the house in the 
shape of a black bird with a white tail or .wing. Sometimes it 
was felt, but not seen, as in the case of a man from Dore, who, 
returning home late one evening on the back of his ass, was 
lifted from his seat in the deepest part of the lane, and fixed 
upright in the middle of the lane, the ass going on as if nothing 
had happened. He was paralysed with fear and unable to move 
until the spirit allowed him to proceed. 

At a house in Rotherham it is said that a headless woman 
appears at midnight. She walks downstairs carrying her own 
head under her arm.* 

A tale is told in Derbyshire about a mother whose daughter 
had died, and who was so overcome with grief that she could 
not be persuaded to go to bed for eleven weeks. At the end of 
that time her daughter appeared to her and said, " Mother, if 
you grieve for me thus I cannot rest in the kingdom of 
heaven." After this the care-worn mother dried up her tears and 
ceased to lament. 

The Devil is always in our midst at twelve o'clock, the hour 
of midnight. 

If a ghost appears, and you say to it, " In the name of the 
Lord, why visitest thou me ? " it will tell you what it has come for. 

It is said that the following spectres used to be seen on the 
common at Cold-Aston, in Derbyshire. First, three tall, thin 
women, standing in a line, with three hour-glasses in their 

* Compare the story of St. Denys, who, when beheaded, took up his own head 
in his hands. 


Lands ;* secondly, a tall man, three yards high, with an oak 
tree over his shoulder ; thirdly, a man with a scythe over his 
shoulder. The man who, as he alleged, saw these things on the 
common said that the appearance of the woman with the hour- 
glasses meant that such or such a person had not more than 
three hours to live ; the giant with the oak tree came, he said, 
to tell whether that person was young or old ; the man with the 
scythe came to cut him down. In the appearance or vision 
which my informant mentioned, the oak tree was a young one, 
indicating that the man who was about to die was young. 

It is said that ghosts have been seen recently in the same 
village. A very small, wizzcned old woman was seen by several 
people. She was usually found sitting against a wall, and when 
spoken to she vanished. A girl was much frightened one even- 
in or by seeing a white bird, resemblino- a soose, but covered 

O v O ""* ^ 

with wings. She practised the spell of walking round it nine 
times, when it vanished. Another person saw a white calf at 
the very moment when her friend was dying. 

About 1840 the parish clerk of Norton, in Derbyshire, and 
his apprentice went to play the organ, then standing in the west 
gallery of the church. Tli3 apprentice, whose face was turned 
towards the nave of the church, told the clerk that he could see 
a woman sitting alone in one of the high cloth-covered pews, 
and that he believed she was spectral. Thereupon they both 
rushed frantically down the steps, which were very tortuous and 
awkward. The clerk would never again play the organ in 
church in the dusk of evening. 

At Sleaford, in Lincolnshire, a man's wife being suddenly 
taken ill, he borrowed a horse and rode off for the doctor. As 
he rode he noticed that on one side of his horse he could see the 
ground with wonderful clearness ; it was so bright that he could 
have seen a pin. But on the other side of the horse it was so 
dark that he could not even see his own foot. By this he knew 
that his wife would die. 

* Evidently the Parcae or Noras. Instead of the distaff or the threads of life 
they carry hour-glasses. 


At a lonely house near Stony Middleton, in Derbyshire, the 
ghost of a murdered woman is said to appear by night, and 
make holes in the loaves of bread in the house. One night the 
master and mistress of the house, who were bakers, sat up in 
order that they might see her. They did not see her, but the 
holes were made in the loaves just as before. The holes were so 
large that the loaves could not be sold. 

At Highlow Hall, near Hathersage, it is said that a man 
dressed in white, and riding on a white horse, appears at mid- 

About midnight on New Year's Eve a man at Eckington, in 
Derbyshire, said that he saw a spectre in the shape of a wild 
white horse. The colliers in this neighbourhood say that they 
often see this white horse. 

A woman in Nottinghamshire used to see a spectral white 
tfalf in the village where she lived. She said that she could see 
it because she was born at twilight, and so had the power of 
seeing what others could not see. 

In Nottinghamshire there was once a poor woman who died 
from neglect in giving birth to a child, and her husband married 
the midwife who ought to have attended her but neglected to do 
so. The spirit of the dead woman haunted the midwife's cottage 
for a long time, but at last it was " laid " in a box by a clergy- 
man and buried therein. Thirty years afterwards some work- 
men broke open the box in which the spirit was laid. It then 
made such a noise that they thought the house was falling down, 
and ran away from their work in a fright. 

Many people believe that spirits are always flying about in 
the air, and that you ought to be careful how you shut a door 
or a window lest you hurt them by so doing. 

It is said of a man who was imprisoned for poaching, that the 
spirits of the birds which he had shot used to appear outside the 
prison-bars and peck at the windows. 

In the East Riding of Yorkshire a spirit which gives warning 
before death is known as a " fetch." 


To exorcise spirits repeat these lines : 

Jesus, a name high over all, 
O'er earth, and air, and sea, 
Before thy name the angels fall, 
And devils fear and flee. 



COLLIERS in the north of Derbyshire leave a hundredweight 
of coal in the pit every week for the fairies. 

People at Curbar in Derbyshire used to set bowls of cream 
on the hill-tops where they thought that the fairies mostly 
dwelt. The cream was always drunk, but the fairies were 
never seen. 

When people gather bilberries, blackberries, or other fruit, 
it is usual in Derbyshire to throw the first bilberry, or other 
fruit gathered, over one's head, and to say, " Pray God send 
me good luck to-day." 

When you taste the first fruit of any season, such as an 
apple or a gooseberry, you should wish something, and your 
wish will be granted. 

When you buy or hire a piece of land, the first thing to be 
done is to take a spade full of earth, throw it up in the air, 
and catch it on the back of your spade. Unless you do this 
your crops will not thrive. When a man has ill luck with 
his crops somebody will say to him, " Ah, thah didn't turn 
t' spade round." 

When you plant beans, potatoes, or other fruit in siugle 
rows, you must begin the row by setting two beans, or two 
potatoes, or as the case may be. In like manner, when you 
begin to sow, if you unintentionally drop a handful of seeds, 
you must not pick them up, but let them remain where they 
are. Unless you do this the crop will not thrive. 

A cow having cast her calf at Hazelbarrow, in the parish 


of Norton, in Derbyshire, the dead body was wrapped in 
straw, and a bonfire made of it in the middle of the farm- 
yard. All the other cows in the cowhouses were then driven 
round the blazing pile. It was said that the smell of the 
roasting calf would prevent the other cows from casting their 


A DERBYSHIRE mile is said to be measured with a dead cat 
and a listing cap. 

If one offers you his left hand to shake, it is usual to say to 
him, " The left hand for a rogue." 

A loquacious person is said to have " as much jaw as a 
sheep's head." 

When a child is cocksure of anything, he will sometimes 
say, " I'm sure and certain, burnt to death." 

Always burn your hair when you cut it off, or the birds 
will carry it away. 

When one has made a witty remark it is usual to give him 
a button, and to say to him, " You've won the button." 

Those who have sold themselves to the Devil will always 
have plenty of money. 

Of ill-gotten wealth it is said, " What comes under the 
Devil's belly will be sure to go over his back." 

When you are married you have tied a knot with your 
tongue which you cannot unloosen with your teeth. 

In the East Riding they say, " A bletherin' coo soon for- 
gets her calf," meaning that excessive grief does not last 

March winds and May sun 

Make clothes white and maids dun. 

Two neighbours having quarrelled, one of them said to 
the other, " I hope I shall live to see thy coffin walk." 

* See the Introduction to my Sheffield Glossary, p. xx. 


Iii Yorkshire they say that lazy people move as if dead 
flies crawled off them. 

When you spill salt you must drop a tear for every grain 
that you spill. 

People in South Yorkshire say that when Mary Queen of 
Scots was beheaded one of the bystanders struck her fallen 
head with his hand, when she turned up her eyes and 
blushed. This is often told to children by nurses and 

When one asks for the best of anything people say, " You 
are like the bishop : the best will do for me." 

There is an old saying : 

A pin a day, 
A groat a year. 
People say : 

A nip for new, 
And a bite for blue. 

In Derbyshire they say : 

My coat's as black as pitch, 
Say the bells of Hather-sitch. 

I believe the first line of this couplet is intended to repre- 
sent the jingle of the bells. Hathersage, it may be noted, 
is sometimes pronounced Hather-sedge. 

In the East Riding of Yorkshire they say, " If you mind 
your own business, and let other people's business alone, you 
will get a mill at Howdeii." They also say that " What is 
to be will be, if mountains are in the way : if it is not to be, 
mole-hills will stop it." 

To a talkative person one will say, " You've a tongue like 
a lamb's tail ; it's always wagging." 

The following lines are heard in North Derbyshire : 

Baslow for gentlefolk, 
Calver for trenchers, 
Middleton for rogues and thieves, 
And Eyam for pretty wenches. 

The people of Calver are said to be great gluttons. 


Between Monsal Dale and Ashford the following lines are 

heard : 

The piper of Shacklow, 

The fiddler of Finn ; 

The old woman of Demon's Dale 

Calls them all in.* 

In the East Biding-, when a man is vexed, he will say, " It 
is enough to vex a saint in a stone wall/'' 

One who anticipates difficulty is told not to cross the 
bridge till he gets to it. 

When people hear the thunder they say that Grod is 
speaking to the wicked. 

A cross child is said to have come from under a crab tree. 

If a man is very dirty people sometimes say, " He's as 
black as the Old Lad's nutting-bag." 

A turned-up nose indicates deceit. 

The following lines are said in Derbyshire concerning 
places in that county : 

Ashford in the water, 
Bakewell in the spice, 
Sheldon in the nutwood, 
Longstone in the lice. 

At Norton Free School, in Derbyshire, all the boys had to 
say the following lines every Friday morning : 

If well thou art rise soon each day, 
First praise thy God, then to Him pray, 
And wash thyself both clean and neat, 
And as you come if you should meet 
Some boys that play, don't waste your time 
As they do, for it is a crime. 
But leave the boys, come straight to school, 
And there sit still ; be not a fool. 
No talk, no play, but mind your task, 
And chief of those you'll be at last. 

* The Ordnance map gives the last-named place as " Dimins Dale." Com- 
pare the surname Dimsdale. Witches " often take a piper to their meetings, 
whose business is to play to their feasting and dancing." (Grimm's Teutonic 
Myth., p. 1016.) Dimins Dale reminds one of Dimons Bay in Iceland, mentioned 
in Eyrbyggia Saga. 


The following lines are sometimes written on the fly-leaves of 

books : 

1C thou art borrowed by a friend, 
Right'welcome shalt thou be 
To read, to study, not to lend, 

But to return to me. 

# * * # 

[Christopher Johnson] is my name, 
And England is my nation, 
[Cold-Aston] is my dwelling-place, 
And Christ is my salvation. 
When I am dead and in my grave, 
And all myjbones are rotten, 
Take up this book and in it look, 
When I am quite forgotten. 


Going up the hill whip me not, 
Coming down the hill hurry me not, 
On level ground spare me not, 
Loose in the stable forget me not, 
Of hay and and corn rob me not, 
Of clean water stint me not, 
With sponge aad water neglect me not, 
Of soft dry bed deprive me not, 
Tired and hot wash me not, 
If sick or cold chill me not, 
With bit or rein jerk me not, 
And when you are angry strike me not. 

The following song was formerly sung in the south of York- 
shire, and is well remembered by old people. I have entitled it 


He stepped up to a cottage door, 
A pretty maid stepped o'er the floor, 
And she cried out aloud " Who's there ? " 
And she cried out aloud " Who's there ? " 

" It hails, it rains, it snows, it blows, 
And I am wet through all my clothes, 
So I pray thee, love, let me in, 
So I pray thee, love, let me in." 

* From Crookes, near Sheffield. 



She said " Kind sir, that ne'er can be, 
There's nobody in the house but me, 
And I dare not let thee in, 
And I dare not let thee in. 

" My father and mother are fast asleep, 
My brother's gone out to tend his sheep, 
And I dare not let thee in, 
And I dare not let thee in." 

He turned him round elsewhere to go, 
But kind compassion she did show, 
And she called him back again, 
And she called him back again. 

They spent that night in sweet content, 
And the very next day to the church they went 
And he made her his charming bride, 
And he made her his charming bride. 


A wealthy young squire from Tanswick he came 
A-courting a nobleman's daughter so fair ; 
All for to marry her was his intent, 
All friends and relations had given consent. 

The time was appointed for their wedding-day, 
A young farmer was chosen to give her away ; 
No sooner did the lady the farmer espy 
It enraged her heart : " O my heart," she did cry. 

Instead of being married she took to her bed, 
The thought of the farmer so ran in her head ; 
Coat, waistcoat, and breeches the fair maid put on, 
And she went a-shooting with her dog and gun. 

She oftentime fired, but nothing she killed, 
Till at length the young farmer came into the field. 
" I thought thou hadst been at the wedding," she cried, 
" To wait on the squire and give him his bride." 

" O, no," said the farmer, with his heart full of love, 
" I ne'er could give her away, I love her too well ! " 
The lady was pleased to hear him so bold, 
And gave him her glove all flowered with gold. 

* From the East Riding. It seems to be a corrupt fragment of a fine poem. 


Returning home she made a vow only to many the man who 
found her glove, and said : 

" The man that shall find it and bring it to me 
The bride of that man and his wife will I be. 3 


There was a man who had a lad ; 
He put him in a pea swad. 
The pea swad it was so green ; 
He put him in a silver pin.* 
The silver pin it was so fine, 
He put him in a glass of wine. 
The glass of wine it \vas so good, 
He put him in a log of wood. 
The log of wood it was so thick, 
He put him in a candlestick. 
The candlestick it was so nasty, 
He put him in an apple pasty. 
The apple pasty was so hot, 
He put him in a porridge pot. 
The porridge pot it was so wide, 
He put him in an old house side,f 
And there he lived and there he died, 
And nobody either laughed or cried. 


Eena, meena, mina, mona, 
Jack the keena, kina, kona, 
Kaila, waila, kit .... laddie. 
Thou shalt be a soldier's laddy 
To drive a horse and beat the drum. 
O. U. T. spells out goes he. 

* Probably the word was pronounced pecn. See pecn end in the supplement 
to my Sheffield Glossary, p. 43. 

f The last three lines appear to have reference to " foundation sacrifice," or to 
the burial of a live child under or within the wall of a newly-buiit house as a 
sacrifice to the local deity. Compare a very different version in Halliwell's 
Nursery Rhymes of England, 1886, p. 203. 




Eena, meena, mina, mona, 

Jack the jeeua, jina, jona, 

Ah me, count 'em along. 

You shall be the soldier's man 

To ride the horse, to beat the drum. 

To tell the soldiers when to come, 

One, two, three, 

Out goes thee. 


THE two popular hymns which follow, like the carol which has 
already appeared in these pages,* contain a mixture of pagan 
and Christian ideas. In the hymn beginning u Plenty of ale 
to-night, my boys/' the pagan element predominates, and it will be 
seen that "the threble Timbers" are the three Norns, or Parcae, 
who foretold the destinies of men. A tradition respecting the 
appearance of these beings in a Derbyshire village has already 
been given in a previous section.f The first hymn is sung in 
the north of Derbyshire, and there are variants in other parts of 
England. The second hymn has been communicated to me by 
a friend, who informs me that it is sung at Stoke Prior. I 
have published and commented upon the first hyrnn elsewhere f 
The second hymn is printed exactly as it was furnished to me, 
the two footnotes as to various versions being supplied by my 
informant. The hymns have no titles, and I number them 


Plen-ty of ale to- night, my boys, and then I will sing you 

Ante, p. 108. f Ante, p. 84. 

Gentleman's Magazine, July, 1890. 




What will you sing me ? I'll sing you three O. 

What is the three O ? Three's the threble Thri - bers, 

n k - 

Two li - ly - white maids and one was dressed in green O; 

Which e'er and e'er and e'er and ev - er more shall be O. 

When this has been sung, another singer repeats the first two 
lines, but instead of saying " I'll sing you three 0," he sings : 

I'll sing you twelve 0. 

What is the twelve ? 

Twelve is the twelve Apostles, 

Two lily-white maids and one was dressed in green 0, 
Which e'er and e'er and e'er and evermore shall be O, 

the last two lines serving as a chorus. 

In this manner the following lines are repeated until the 
singer gets to the " threble Thribers," with which the song 

began : 

Twelve Apostles. 
Eleven Archangels. 
Ten Commandments. 
Nine Bright Shiners. 
Eight the Gabriel riders. 
Seven golden stars in heaven. 
Six came on the board. 
Eive by water. 
Four Gospel rhymers. 
Three threble Thribers,* 
Two lily-white maids and 
One was dressed in green 0. 

* The i in " Thribers " is long. 





Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? Sing all ov - er one, And what was one? 


One was God (to)* the righteous man, To save our souls to rest, A - men. 


Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? Sing all ov - er two, And what was two ? 

Two was the Jewry, One was God (to) the righteous man, To save our souls to rest, A-rnen. 


Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? ing r.ll ov - er three, And 

what was three? Three was the Trin - i - ty, Two was the Jew-ry, 

One was God the right-eous man, To save our souls to rest, A - men. 

* to probably an error. 




~>r b / 1 

q F 

f- M* 


1 1 h- 

1 1 



} r j j 

i! J 

* c> 

9 9 


Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? 

Sing all ov - er 

four, And 

Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? 

Sing all cv - er 

five, And 

Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? 

Sing all ov - er 

six, And 

Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? 

Sing all ov - er 

seven, And 

Sing, sing, and what shall we sing ? 

Sing all ov - er 

eight, And 




1 p* 1 J 


* I 


Vv 1 1 


_J ^_^_M_ 



jj 9 & 

what was four ? Four was the la- dy's bower,*Three was the Trin - i - ty, &c. 

what was five? Five was the man a - live, Four was the la-dy'sbow'r,&c. 

what was six ? Six was the cru - ci - fix, Five was the man a - live, &c. 

what was seven ? Seven was the Bride of "Heav'n, Six was the cru-ci - fix, &c. 

what was eight? Eight was the crooked straight,Seven was the Bride of Heav'n,&c. 

Lady's bower, lady bird, lady or lady's birth (?). 


All Saints' Day, flowers strewn on 
graves on, 125 

animals buried under fruit trees, 132 
talking, xiv, 1, 20, 40 

apple, divination by, 84 

parings, divination by, 82 
pie, a Christmas dish, 103 
thrown in harvest festival, 126 
tree, hides a girl from a witch, 

ark in the sky, 118 

Armaleg, 24 

ash leaves, divination by, 87, 88 

Audhumbla, the cow, 68 n. 

bags carried by the dead, xiii 

ball, why caught on Shrove Tuesday, 


Ball Day = Shrove Tuesday, 117 
baptism affects the temper, 120 

death before, 120 

effect of, xxiii 

hired cloak and hood for, 119 

of bell, 129 

resisting Satan at, 120 

salt used at, xxiii, 120 

unlucky to cry at, 120 
Barber, place-names beginning with, 


barghast, description of a, 137 
battledore and shuttlecock, divination 

by, 82, 86 

bay leaves, divination by, 78 
beads, coral, good for children to wear, 

beans, traditions as to, 62 

beans, souls dwell in flowers of, xxxii, 

bear's back, sitting on, to cure whoop- 
ing cough, 90 

bed not to be turned on Friday or 

Sunday, 93 
should point east and west, 90 

" bed churn" on Shrove Tuesday, 115 

bees, superstitions respecting, 64, 65 
following of, 133 

beetles, folk-lore respecting, 67 

bell, baptism of, 129 
ringing, traditions of gifts for, 
129, 130 

besom, jumping over a, 13 

jumping over a, denotes un- 
chastity, 102 

birds carry no feathers to their nests 

on Holy Thursday, 116 
ghosts in form of, 138, 139 
,, of paradise = robins, 66 
., warn men of impending trouble. 
67, 68, 69, 96 

birth at midnight, effect of, 119 
in "chime, hours," 119 
day of, 119 
,, drinking at, 119 

bishop, proverb about, 143 

black-haired man must let in Christ- 
mas, 106 

Black stone, tradition as to, 57 

Blaze Day, 111 

books, lines written in, 145 

bottle of nails rattled by witch, 73 

bounds, punishment of children at 
beating of, 128 



bread, cavity in, a sign of death, 97 

folk-lore respecting, 99 

thrown on water will attract 

corpse, 76, 77 

breakfast, unlucky to sing before, 95 
bride of heaven, 151 
bride-gate in churchyard, 122 
burial, burnt drink at, 124 

cakes carried to church at, 124 

,, distributed at, 125 

given to bees at, 125 

flowers at, 124 

hoods worn at, 126 

how wine offered a% 123 

in a house, 41 (?), 43, 57 

in linen lucky, 126 

of girls, garlands at, 125 

of young women, 125 

rain at, 123 

refusal of, alienates land, 128 

,, sin-drinking at, 124 

tears shed at, 123 

with feet towards rising sun, 

buried villages, traditions about, 58, 

burnt drink at funerals, 65. 124 

how made, 124 

offered to bees, 125 
butter-milk given to witches, x, 7, 35, 

Byard, a blind horse so called, 25 

his footprints to be kept clean, 

Byard's'leap, 25 

calf, burning of dead, to avoid pes- 
tilence, 141 

folk-lore respecting, 67 
candle burnt on Christmas Eve, 105 
Christmas, an instrument of 

magic, xxvii. 
why burnt where corpse lies, 

cattle kneel on Christmas Eve, 105 

cats, folk-lore respecting, 68, 72, 90, 


cat's skin for toothache, 89 
caul, folk-lore respecting, 120 
child born in May delicate, 116 
burnt, 46 

gifts to, for luck, 128 
hated by mother, 28, 29 
lucky for first to be a girl, 94 
stillborn, burial of, 120 
weighed before a year old will 

die, 96 

child-birth, fairy midwife at, 134 
Christmas ceremonies, 103 seq. 

Day, women not to enter 

house on, 106 

doll in box at, 108, 110 
ghosts more powerful at, 107 
letting in of, 106 
,, unwashed hands at, 106 
churching of women, 93 
churches removed by fairies, 61 
cinder given to a lover, 129 
clan feuds, 130, 131, 132 
clothes, holes cut in women's, in divina- 
tion, 75 
put on inside out lucky, 100, 


coal offered to fairies, 141 
cock, 57, C6 
why placed on church steeples, 


crowing in houses, fancied, 137 
on doorstep, 99 

lays an egg at the age of seven, 


pancake to be first given to, 65 
cock- walk, 133 
coffin, making one's own, 124 

walking of, 142 
Collop Monday, 114 
conversion to Christianity, 88 
corn-crakes, folk-lore respecting, G7 
corpse carried to churchyard with feet 
foremost, 122 



corpse, doors left open during burial of, 

food placed within reach of, 123 

in the house affects dough, 122 

kissing of, 124 

laid out with feet towards rising 
sun, 123 

limpness of, followed by another 
death, 102 

meeting a, followed by death, 124 

not to be locked up in house, 123 

salting a, 41 

salt on breast of, 123 

should be touched, 123 

watched all night, 125 
Corpse-Gate, 122 
counting-out rimes, 147, 148 
courtship in foreign village, fine for, 

cow not to be milked on morning of 

sale, 96 

story of a miraculous, 67 
cow-horns blown on Shrove Tuesday, 


cradle, empty, not to be rocked, 98 
crickets, folk-lore respecting, 67, 08 
crooked money, divine.tion by, 80 
brings luck, 100 

steeple at Chesterfield, legend 

about, 60 
cross, a charm against witches, 71 

fine day produced by, 85 

,, made of wiggin, 72 

on bread, 79 

meaning of sign of, xxiii scq. 

on clothes, 86 

stitched in the dress, 71, 72 

T-shaped, 85 

to keep evil spirits away, 78 

to make rain cease, 85 

,, made on water, 99 

., to remove a rainbow, 83 
crossed shoes, divination by, 85 
cross-way, divination at, 84 

haunted by spirits, 137 

crows, folk-lore respecting, 68, 69 
lines said on meeting, 69 
cuckoo, divination by, 86 

folk-lore about, 78,111,113 

"footing" the, 111 

walling in of, 112 
curfew, 4 

bell, accounts of, 130 

darkness, how ominous, 139 
dark-haired men in England, xxvii 

seq., xxxiv 
dathera dad, 9 

" dead cart," tradition of, 137 
Deadman's Lane, xiii. 
death on hen's feathers, 123 
Demon's Dale. 144 
" Derby Ram " = Ymir, xxi 
Derbyshire mile, how measured, 142 
Devil always present at midnight, 138 
brings fruit back to trees, 63, 


his club, 63 
playing at cards, 41 
,, raising the, 75 

selling oneself to, 17, 71, 72, 142 
Devil's ditch can never be filled up, 27 
Dewric Well, tradition about, 59 
dikes made by fairies, xvii 
distribution of folk-tales, xvii 
divination, 73 scq. 
dog licking a wound, 89 
doll in a box at Christmas, 108, 110 
dragon's blood, burning of, to "torture 

absent man, 80 
dreams of baby, 119 
a cat, 100 
the dead, 93 
death, 102 
pegging sheets out, 97 
new laid eggs, 96 
a wedding, 100 
not to be told before breakfast, 



dust in a house, folk-lore respecting, 98 
dwarfs, their appearance and size, 135 

Eagle Stone, 56 

earth, offering of, 141 

ears, burning, 98, 101 

Easter, how related to the harvest, 117 
Monday, bottles carried on, 116 
Sunday, veal pies eaten on, 116 

egg and shovel, divination by, 88 

elder tree, Christ crucified on, 63 

evergreens, why brought into the house 
at Christmas, xxvii 

eye of God in the sky, 56 

eyelash, divination by. 93 

fairies, "clean" and "dirty," 16 
come into grocers' shops, 136 
dancing of, 134 
direct the lost, 134 
dress of, 134 
living in a hill, 16 
presiding over wells, 115 
,, " minister " supping with, 23 
their doings not to be disclosed, 


make roads and dikes, xvii, 135 
spin mountain flax, 135 
their good deeds, 31, 34, 42, 46, 


removal of churches by, 61 
size of, 134 
their rings cannot be removed, 


offering of tobacco pipes to, x 
midwife, 134 
steal babies, 136 
Morris dancing taken from, 


make holes in bread, 140 
offerings of coal to, 141 
cream to, 141 

identical with witches, xii 
the friends of mankind, xv 

fairies, the voice of conscience, xv 
pipes, object of, x 
described, xii 
fetch, 140 
finger, ointment to be applied with 

first, 90 
nails, folk-lore about, 90, 100, 

102, 114 
fingers, linking of, 78, 95 

long, a sign of improvidence, 

fire, folk-lore concerning, 93, 97, 101, 


first-fruits, xxxi,'141 
fish, ghost in the form of a, 61 

talking, 1 
flowers in sick-room, 100 

remaining fresh denote true 

love, 102 

souls dwelling in,"xxxii, 62 
strewn on graves on All Saints' 

Day, 125 

folk-lore, not always ancient, xxii 
a barbarous philosophy, xxii 
"the geology of the human 

race," xxii 

folk-tales, how distributed, xvii 
food buried with the dead, xiv 
placed beside the dead, 123 
of the dead, refusal of, xv, xvi 
foot-ale, 133 

foot, right, to be put out first, 94 
"footing the cuckoo," 111 
foundation sacrifice, xxxiii, 147 n 
Friday, folk-lore about, 113 scq, 
frog, torture of, to cause pain to man, 

put in child's mouth to cure 

thrush, 92 
frying-pan, used in raising the Devil, 

frummity, the first thing eaten on 

Christinas morning, 103 
frummity, when put on the fire, 110 
funeral, unlucky not to attend, 102 



funeral cakes, liow made, 124 

distributed in village, 


given to bees, 125 

taken to church, 124 

., garlands, how made, 125 

Gabriel hounds, 119 
riders, 149 
gallows tree, legend about, 10 
garlands for forsaken lovers, 127 
garter, omen as to losing, 98 
gifts of food, vessels containing, not 

to be washed, 98, 99 
gipsies, feared, xxix, 94 

something must be bought 
from, 93 
glass ball, 18 
golden ball, 7, 52 
bowl, 109 
cup, 42 
raiment, 56 
ring, 7 
goose, eaten on Martinmas Sunday, 


laying golden eggs, 1 
gospel well, GO 

rhymers, 149 
greaves = groves, 107 
Grim's Dyke, explained by folk-talc, 
27 n. And see p. xiii 

hiichel === witch, xiii 

haddock's neck, superstition concern- 
ing, 67 

hair, vows not to cut, 133 n. 
not to be cut on Good Friday, 114 
divination by, 74, 86, 87, 100 
not to be kept, 93 
burying of, to cure disease, 90, 92 
on arms, brings riches, 101 
falling down of, 101 

hammer, falling upright, ominous, 101 
called " Smiler," 49 

hand, tickling of, to test power of 

keeping a secret, 81 
u poisonous," 91 
hands, shaking across, 100 

washing of, 129 
hanged, born to be, 95 
harvest songs, 126 
hawk at a wedding, omen as to, 68 
headless dogs, 137 

,, women, xiii, 137, 138 
hell bridge, 17 
Hob Thrust, or Thurst, 39 
" holy lymph," 86 

Holy Thursday, folk-lore about, 116 
horse, folk-lore respecting, 69, 101. See 

White Horse 
riding on piebald, to cure cough, 


horse-nail stumps, rattled by witch, 73 
horse-shoe, folk-lore about, 71. 73, 87 n. 

Sec Iron 
resembles Christ's crown of 

thorns, 97 

Hottr = Otter = Odin, legend about, 10 
house, burial in a, 41 (?) ; 43, 57 
dust in, 98 
survival of primitive, 131 
warming. 132 

Iberians in England, xxxiv, xxxv 
image, burning of, to cause pain or 

death to man, xxv, 76 
iron keeps beer sweet in thunderstorm, 

itching, folk-lore about, 100 

Jack and the Bean Stalk, origin of, 

jolly wessel, 107 

key and Bible, divination by, 74 

used in raising the Devil, 75 

Kinder Scout, its meaning, 57 n. 

mermaid at, 57 

knife belonging to a village, 113 



knife buried on moor, 113 

damaged by ignis fatuus, 87 

,, divination by, 82 

folk-lore about, 99, 101 

knot, tying of, to bring vision of future 
husband, 83 

lady's bower, 151 

lamb's tail, folk-lore respecting, 67 

lantern on table unlucky, 100 

laughter followed by trouble, 95 

" laying " a ghost, 62, 140 

Leachfield, tradition of buried village 
at, 58 

lead, divination by, 80 

league boots, 7 

leather, burning of, to prevent infec- 
tion, 92 
hand not to be rubbed on, 92 

leaves, divination by, 77 

leechcraft, 88 scq. 

left-handed unlucky, 95 

" lethwaite " = limp, 10:2 

lich- waking, 125 

linen, burial in, lucky, 126 

Lith-shelf, xx. 

Little John = Honir ? xviii, xix 
his grave at Hathersage, 

little red hairy man, 50 

local rimes, 142 scq. 

long heel, a distinction of race, xxviii 

louse, folk-lore respecting, 69 

Lousing Day = Easter Monday, 115 

loving cup at Christmas, 104 

luck money, xxvi, 99 

" lucky bird " at Christmas, xxviii, 


bone, divination by, 81 
,, in sheep's head, 87 

mackerel sky, 119 

magpie gives warning of danger, 46, 

lines said on meeting a, 66 

magpie, witch in form of a, 73 
Mally Bent, a being so called, 38 n. 
" mandrake tree," 62 
" mantle " worn by witches and fairies, 


marriage, bride-cake at, how used, 121 
clothes worn at, 121 
,, not to be green, 121 

curious performances of, 22 

,, dancing in stocking feet at, 


eligibility for, 115 
frequency of, at Easter, 
115 n. See Lousing Day. 
initial letters to be changed 

on, 121 

lucky day for, 120 
not to be on a Friday, 121 
,, of three in the family on the 

same day, 99 
races at, 122 
service not to be learnt, 121 
shoes and rice thrown at, 


touching bridegroom at, 121, 
under a tree, 22 
under a tree, by Irish parson 

in Derbyshire, 22 
water poured out at, 121 
Martinmas Sunday, goose eaten on, 

Mary Queen of Scots, her blushing 

after death, 143 
"Master John," the name of a wise 

man, 60 

May = maid, 18 
May dew, used to strengthen children, 


meal, plan laid during a, 98 
merrythought, divination by, 83 
metamorphosis, 4, 36, 44, 45, 72, 73 
midwife, fairy, 134 
mince pies, folk-lore about, 105 

instruments of magic, xxvii 



mirror, folk-lore respecting, 1, 14, 94, 

95, 102 

,, divination by, 82, 84 
Mischief night, pranks played on, 11G 
Mjolnir = "Smiler," 50 n 
moon, bowing to the new, xxii, 59 
curing warts, 89 
divination by, 81, 82 
human actions and fortunes 
following the course of, 65, 
59, GO 

man in the, 59 
on its back, 118 
pointing at, 56, 97 
to be first seen in the open air, 


worship, xxii 

Morris dance = Moorish dance, xxxiv 
dancing taken from the fairies, 

xxxiii, 136 

dancing, a religious rite, xxxiii 
tune played at, xxxiii, 


lands, 136 n 
Mothering Sunday, 116 
mouldy halfpenny, &c., used in raising 

the Devil, 75 

mountain producing sleep, 6 
myrtle, divination by, 85 

names, folk-lore concerning, 94, 97 
new coat not to be put on empty, 80 
New Year customs, magical instru- 
ments, xxviii 

goods brought into house 
on eve of, 106 

,, earth charged at, 106 
Nicorbore, a being so called, 37 
Nine Bright Shiners, 149 
nine, the number, used in magic, 59, 

83, 86, 92, 97 

Noah's Ark in the sky, 118 
Norus, xxx, xxxi, 148 
Norns, tradition of appearance of, in 
Derbyshire, 138 

nose, turned-up, indicates deceit, 144 
numerals, old, 147, 148 
nutting-bag, the Devil's, xiii, 144 
nuts buried with the dead, xiii, xiv, 

xv, xvi, 4 

divination by, 82, 85 
eaten at the full moon at Christ- 
mas, 105 

brought back to trees by the 
Devil, 114 

oath folloAved by loss of hair, 133 
form of a, 127 
,, taken on salt, 127 
odd numbers, luck in, 94 
Old One, the name of a "devil" or 

family spirit, 38 
old woman, unlucky to meet one in the 

morning, 95 
omens, 93 seq. 
onion drives snakes away, 67 

will split a cane, 78 
opal unlucky, 93 
Otter = H6ttr= Odin, legend about, 

xviii, 10 
owl, ill-omened, 70 

pancake bell, 115 

divination by, 65 

associated with shuttlecocks, 

the first to be given to the 

cock, 65 
thrown over the church steeple, 


Parcae, appearance of, xxx, xxxi, 84 
table set out for, xxx, 84 
tradition of appearance of, 139 
in old hymn, 148 
Peace Egg, account of the play so 

called, xxxiv 

peacock's feathers, unlucky, 93 
pear tree, divination by, 84 



pears, divination by, 86 

pea swad, divination by, 83 

Peggy wi' t' lantern, 138 

Peggy Whooper, 138 

pigeon, torture of, to bring back a 

faithless lover, 79 
pigs, why killed early, 67 
can see the wind, 67 
,, Satan in the hoofs of, 69 
pin pronounced peen } 147 
pins, burning of, to torture absent man, 

worn in dress to torture husband, 


not to be giveu away, 100 
dropped into wells, 115 
pitcher, walking, 29 

unlucky to drink out of, 94 
when not to be washed, 99 
plants, folk-lore concerning : 
ash, 64 

bay tree, 62, 78 
beans, 62 
blackberries, 63 
bird eyes, 62 
clover, 63 
daffodil, 63 
elder, 63 
foxglove, 64 
houseleek, 62 
ivy, 62 

"mandrake tree," 62 
parsley, 63 
pea, 83 

rosemary, 62, 80 
rose of York and Lancaster, 64 
sweet briar, 62 
thyme, 63 
white heather, 64 
wiggiu, 63, 64 
yew, 62, 80 

pool, good things at bottom of, 112 
posset, how made, 103 

,, the last thing drunk on Christ- 
mas Eve, 103 

pot boiling, keeping the, 133 
proverbs, 142 
Puck = poke or bag, xiv 
pudding, fairy in a, 9 

rainbow, its colours, 55 

how to drive it away, xxiii, 18 
verses about, 118 
ran-tanning (or ran-danning), what it 

is, 76 

ravens betoken trouble, 68 
red-haired woman, unlucky to meet 

one in the morning, 95 
red mantle worn by witches and fairies, 

xii, xiii, 70 
riding-hoods, 71 
wearing of, brings death, 97 
resurrection from the dead, tradition as 

to, 56 

ribbon dance, 128 
Rigsmal, xxviii, xxix 
right hand, bishop's, at confirmation, 


riming and wishing, 100 
ring floating in the air as a guide, 33 
associated with wishing, 7 
wedding, not to be used twice, 


not to be taken off, 98 

,, divination by, 78, 85 

wears with trouble, 121 

roads supernaturally made, xvii, 26 
Robin Hood = Odin, xviii 
robins, cats will not eat, 67 

covered Christ with leaves, 66 
give warning of danger, 69, 70 

nests of, not to be pulled, 70 
rosemary, divination by, 80 
rushing wind, in divination, 75 

sacrifice, xxxi, 141 

foundation, xxxiii, 147 n 
sage leaves, divination by, 88 
salt, borrowing of, 98 



salt, divination by, 82 

helping to, 97 

oaths taken on, 127 

prayers offered near, 80 

sacred character of, xxxii 

spilling of, 96, 143 

used at baptism, 120 
salt and water called "holy lymph," 86 

the Devil hates, 86 
salt-cellar overturned by Judas Iscariot, 

" Sayles " in the Eobin Hood ballads, 

xix, xx 

Scathelocke = Loki, xviii 
Sceaf, 108 n 

seeds, scattering of, to attract a man 
or woman, 84 

divination by, 83 

offering of, 141 
selling diseases, 89, 91 
seven " the charm number," 80 
seventh son, his powers, 91 
daughter of gipsy, 91 
,, daughter unlucky, 98 
sheet, divination by, 83 
sheaf made big to ensure good harvest, 


shift, divination by, 75 n. 
shoe-lace, untied, brings lover, 101 
shoulder-blade, divination by, 73, 74 
Shrove Tuesday, cow horns blown on, 


called Ball Day, 117 

sieve, carrying water in a, 40 

divination by, 83 
siUabub, what it is, 87 
silver not to be given to old begging 
woman, 77 

put in churn to make butter 
come, xii, 81 

given to men at harvest by 
women, 133 

spoon made out of fish's gill, 88 
Simmer water, legend about, 61 
sin-drinking, 124 

" Smiler," the hammer so called, 49 
smock, divination by, 75, 78, 88 
snail, black, causes rain, 119 
snake, superstition respecting, 66, 67 
souls of the dead contained in bean 

flowers, 62 
souls of the dead contained in thyme (?), 


souls of the dead contained in haw- 
thorn (?), 63 
souls of the dead contained in foxglove 

bells, 64 

Sparken Well, 59 
speaking together, 78 
spiders, folk-lore concerning, 66, 90, 91 
spirits, exorcism of, 141 

omnipresence of, 140 
spirit-rapping, what it is, 75, 124 
spitting for luck, 59, 94, 99, 102, 131, 


spoon, falling, brings a fool, 100 
squinting, luck about, 97 
stars, folk-lore concerning, 55, 60 

divination by, 76 

,, pointing at, 56 

streak of, foretells the weather, 


stick, falling of, 102 
Stump John, a natural pillar, 56 
stone, protects a farmer's cattle and 
property, 57 

divination practised on, 82 
sugar-cupping, 116 n. 
sun dances on Easter Sunday, xxii, 55 
burial with feet towards rising, 

human actions following course of, 

55, 90 

worship, xxii 
Sunday, folk-lore concerning, 71, 95, 


sunshine taken into a barn, 112 
surname, wife's, adopted by husband, 

swallows, bring luck. 67 




swallows, cats will not eat, 67 
mourn for Our Lord, 67 

table, folk-lore about, 97, 100, 101 
tail foremost for luck, 58, 67, 93 
teeth to be accounted for in heaven, 


folk-lore concerning, 93, 94, 101 
preserved till burial, 125 
put in a coffin, xxxii, 125 
tharf cakes, when eaten, 129 
feasts of, 129 
kept till next year, 129 
thirteen, the number, 96 

folk-lore respecting, 66 
Thor, 39 n, 50 n, 85 n. 
thunder, the voice of God, 144 
thunderstorm, no working during, 118 
Thribers = Paroae, xxx, 148 
Three Ships, carol of, 108 
thyme, perfume of, where murder took 

place, 63 

souls dwelling in, xxxii 
toads spit fire, 67 
tobacco pipes offered to fairies, x. 
tongue, lucky to carry tip of, 97 
tree, marriage under a, 22 

moaning of a, 62 
trees speaking, xiv, 12 
blossoming of, associated with 

death, 62 

twelfth- cakes, great size of, 110 
twilight, birth at, 140 
ominous, 139 

Underground country, 52 

passages, legends as to, 

Unlousing Day = Easter Monday, 115 

Valentine's Day, birds pair on, 111 
begging on, 111 

,, ., first man or woman 

met on, 111 

" vessel cnps " at Christmas, 110 n 

vicarious punishment, 35 
village, swimming for a, 132 

wagon-load of people left by God in a 

village, 56 

" wakes " = carol singers, 110 
walking backwards, divination by, 83, 


wand, carried by fairy, 16, 28 
warts, curious modes of curing, 88 seq. 
" washing baby's head," 119 
wassail cake, how made, xxvii, 103 

bowl, contents of, 103 
water, divination by, 78 

thrown in harvest festival, 126 
washing in, 99 
watched is long in boiling, 59 
Watling Street, a spirit path in Robin 

Hood ballads, xx. 
wesseling, 107 
whistling woman, 96 bis 
white calf, 139, 140 

horse, 26 n, 58, 80, 101, 102, 

118, 140 

rose, an emblem of disdain, 127 
" wickersberry tree," 64 
wiggin makes butter come, 79 

stick opens a toll bar, 24 
wild horses, a name of clouds, 118 
wind, cause of, how divined, 118 
wise man, his powers, 25, 36, 60, 71, 72 

woman, her powers, 71, 72 
wishing, 17 

stone, 56 
bone, divination by, 81 
well, 59 

when a rime is made, 100 
on tasting first-fruit, 141 
witch, death song of a, 73 
. wiggiu, 24, 72 
witches, boiling by, 8 

dressed like fairies, 70 

,, foretell death, 72 

gifts to, x, 7, 35, 44, 45, 72 



witches, how driven away from a 

house, 80 

identical with fairies, xii 
meet at cross-ways and toll- 
bars, 71 

tobacco offered to, 45 
witchcraft, how it can be acquired, 70 
woman, unlucky to meet one in the 

morning, 95 

gives silver coin to men at 
harvest to escape kissing, 
,, not to enter the house on 

Christmas Day, xxviii, 106 
burial of young, 125, 126 
frisking of, causes rain, 118 
heaving of, 115 
made fruitful by a well, 59 
makes crops prosper, xxix 
,, must bind sheaf at harvest, 
xxix, 127 

woman must assist in planting fruit, 


unlousing of, 115 
whistling, 96 bis 
world, tradition as to duration of, 56 
worm dying in hand of seventh son, 

" Yellow Bellies," in Lincolnshire, a 

distinct race, xxix 
yew, divination by, 80 
younger brother, his duty, 24 
Yule log, manner of burning, 103, 104 

preservation of ashes of, 103, 

presents of, 105 

magic connected with, xxvii, 


Yule cake, how made, 104 
Yull, yull, yull, 105 

Printed by NICHOLS & SONS, 25, Parliament Street, Westminster. 


Addy, Sidney Oldall 
Household tales